Shortly after 9/11, Fordham Kiwanis got a letter from a student in a local school as part of a Christmas “grant a wish” program.
The letter was from a boy, Wilson Asitimbay, who had lost his father, Manual, in the World Trade Center attack. The boy’s wish was to have his father back.
An immigrant from Ecuador, Manual Astimbay had been employed as a cook at Windows on the World, where he had worked hard with the dream of bringing his children—including 12-year-old twins Wilson and Richard—to America.
Now, the children had arrived with help from the Red Cross, but their father was gone.
“All we wanted to do was to bring the Asitimbay family some holiday joy,” said Thomas DeJulio, (FCRH ’73, LAW ’77) New York Kiwanis International vice president and Fordham’s general counsel.
The Kiwanis members purchased toys for the family, and “adopted” them over the long term, keeping in touch as the children grew.
“Kiwanis in New York focused on the long term needs of those families, particularly their educational needs,” he added.
On Tuesday, Sept. 13, Fordham Kiwanis reunited with the Asitimbay family (above, front row) to present a $6,000 contribution toward funding the children’s continuing education, in memory of their father.
The twins, Richard and Wilson, are now 22; 18-year-old Wilmer is a high school senior starting college next year, and the youngest, Edwin, is entering Catholic high school this fall.
In all, some 3,000 children lost a parent on that day ten years ago.
“On the anniversary of 9/11. Kiwanians around the world re-dedicated themselves to impacting the lives of children and trying to make this a “better world” for them to live in,” he said.