An previous newspaper clipping from throughout the nation helped a most cancers affected person show he was on the World Commerce Heart on 9/11 — and obtain a six-figure award a long time later.

Spencer Cullum informed The Publish he remembers being a terrified 9-year-old and lined in mud whereas along with his household on trip in downtown Manhattan when the Twin Towers collapsed after being struck by planes.

“There was one middle-aged man who had a handkerchief he was respiratory by, and he ripped it in half and gave one half to me and my brother,” Cullum stated. 

A stranger gave Cullum and his brother half a handkerchief to breathe by as mud stuffed the air.
Spencer Cullum

He stated he had no method of understanding on the time that the mud clouding the air can be blamed for the leukemia that ravaged his physique practically twenty years later — or that he would battle to show he was on the scene to get authorities advantages.

However Cullum was saved partly by an previous article in his hometown paper through which his father griped that his son was kicked off a junior soccer staff as a result of it took the household so lengthy to get dwelling to the West Coast after Sept. 11, 2001. 

On the day of the assaults, Cullum, his dad and mom, 12-year-old sister and 10-year-old brother had been downtown ready to take the ferry trip to the Statue of Liberty when the primary jet, hijacked by terrorists, struck the North Tower. Onlookers together with the household weren’t certain what had occurred, so that they moved in nearer to have a look, he recalled. Then, they noticed the second hijacked aircraft hit the South Tower.

Cullum and his family stand with the Twin Towers in the background.
Cullum and his household had been photographed with the Twin Towers behind them simply days earlier than they had been demolished by terrorists.
Spencer Cullum

“We abruptly heard this actually loud noise, it flew proper over our heads,” Cullum recalled. “Though it was 50, 60 tales up, it was so loud that I believed it was scraping the bottom, like that’s how loud the engines had been.” 

At that time, everybody began again up into Battery Park, he stated, making an attempt to determine what was occurring. 

“My brother and I had been watching, we might see human figures leap from the buildings,” he stated. “We had been asking about them. My mother saved making an attempt to maintain us from trying.” 

A clip of the Daily Press.
A clipping concerning the Cullum household’s expertise helped Cullum show his most cancers was linked to 9/11.
Spencer Cullum
A highlighted piece of the newspaper clipping details the Cullums experience.
The clipping featured Cullum’s father complaining that his son was kicked off a soccer as a result of it took the household so lengthy to get dwelling after Sept. 11, 2001.
Spencer Cullum
Another newspaper clipping.
Cullum and his household witnessed the aircraft moments earlier than crashing into the towers and watched individuals leaping from the buildings.
Spencer Cullum

When the towers fell, the household joined others inside a downtown enterprise in search of refuge. That’s the place the person supplied him a bit of material to breathe by.

“We had been utterly lined in grey, like stage make-up or one thing,” he recalled. 

The household lastly made it again to their Instances Sq. lodge on a metropolis bus later that day. That they had aircraft tickets, however the airports had been shut down amid the emergency. So the household rented a automobile and drove to Canada the place they’d kinfolk and will hunker down till a flight again to the West Coast was out there, Cullum stated. 

They stayed up north for a number of days, he stated, “till all the things began to return to regular and we might fly dwelling once more.”

Whereas Cullum was gone, he missed his soccer staff’s two first video games and was routinely disqualified for the remainder of the season, a truth his father angrily shared with an area paper on the time – not realizing how essential the story would grow to be to his son sooner or later.

Quick-forward practically twenty years to 2019, when Cullum had simply completed up grad college at St. John’s in New Mexico and began a junior-high-school educating job. That’s when he grew to become gravely sick and was identified with leukemia.

The sickness put him within the ICU at Vanderbilt Hospital in Nashville, Tenn., for six weeks.

“I had a whole lot and 1000’s of {dollars} in medical debt,” he recalled. 

Cullum utilized to the Sept. 11 Sufferer’s Compensation Fund, however he was denied.

This system wished him to have non-relatives vouch that he was in Decrease Manhattan on Sept. 11. However he solely had household with him.

Cullum in the hospital.
Cullum was awarded six figures by the Sept. 11 Sufferer’s Compensation Fund.
Spencer Cullum

That’s when the newspaper story about his father venting that he obtained kicked off his staff grew to become essential.

“Nobody might have predicted, , 20 years later, that we had been going to want that proof to corroborate the story,” stated Cullum’s lawyer, Beth Jablon, of Sullivan Papain Block McGrath Coffinas & Cannavo PC.

The fund issued Cullum a six-figure award March 28, Jablon stated. 

Cullum in the hospital.
Cullum stated his expertise on the World Commerce Heart on 9/11 has made him a greater particular person.
Spencer Cullum

The lawyer has since amended Cullum’s unique declare to get him cash to cowl the wages he might have made if he had been capable of work proper out of faculty.

Collum declined to disclose the precise award quantity however stated that thus far, it has been sufficient cash to purchase property and construct a home the place he lives along with his spouse in Santa Fe, NM.

He stated he’s nonetheless struggling the results of the assaults and expects to get a knee substitute quickly.

However he added that when he thinks being on the World Commerce Heart that day, he looks like he’s a greater particular person due to it. 

“Once I take a look at who I’m, as a son and a brother and a husband, and an individual, I’m very grateful,” he stated.

“I believe that the struggling that I endured has actually sharpened and altered my view of my life and my goal. I don’t know that I’ve the power to say that I’d select to undergo it once more. However having gone by it, I’m grateful for lots of the ways in which it’s affected me.” 

Extra reporting by Desheania Andrews

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