Seventeen years ago, the world was horrified when over 2,700 people died in the Sept. 11, 2001 terror attacks on the World Trade Center.
While memories of 9/11 have faded for some, there are many people within the New York financial community who continue to dedicate their time and energy to honoring the victims of those attacks.
In memory of Bill Micciulli, who lost his life on Sept. 11, 2001, and in recognition of the charity that bears his name, Monsignor Farrell High School recently retired Micciulli’s baseball jersey from his time at the school. Shown here with the jersey are the Friends of Bill Micciulli Board of Directors (back row, left to right) Charlie McAteer, Tom Collins, Joe Saraceno, Matthew Rozzi, Tim Mohin, Mike Scavetta, Mike Kucher and Tom Kramer.
One example is a charity formed by a group of traders and brokers in honor of Bill Micciulli, a good friend who lost his life that day. Micciulli, a 30-year-old trader with a wife and two young daughters, worked at Cantor Fitzgerald, the brokerage that occupied several floors high up in the World Trade Center, and lost his life when the towers collapsed.
“I’m sorry more people didn’t get a chance to know him,” said Nicholas Mehnert, chairman of the charity’s board of directors and director of exchange fee systems at CME Group. “He was like a brother to me. But Billy wasn’t just a good friend—he was a good guy. He touched every single person who knew him.”
That big-hearted generosity is what inspired family and friends like Mehnert to start a charity in Micciulli’s name as a way to remember the man they loved and lost on 9/11.
The organization started in 2003 and focused on granting scholarships to seniors at Billy’s alma mater, Monsignor Farrell High School in Staten Island, N.Y. But within a few years, the enthusiasm of donors allowed the charity to expand its reach, and the board of directors began to identify other worthy causes that sounded like things Micciulli would have supported.
The latest such effort includes a $25,000 donation to the Joseph Maffeo Foundation to become a benefactor of the building of the new neonatal intensive care unit, or NICU, at Staten Island University Hospital that helps newborns with serious medical issues.
“It’s exactly the kind of thing that Billy would care about,” said Mehnert. “And to see his name live on in association with something like that, helping these babies that have serious problems, is just a beautiful thing.”
To date, the charity has raised over $250,000 to support various efforts, mostly in and around Micciulli’s hometown. These include contributions to the area’s One on One Charity that helps autistic individuals, Hurricane Sandy relief efforts and sponsorship of the Great Kills Little League team where Billy played youth baseball. And with zero spent on salaries or marketing, every penny that the charity distributes is dedicated to a worthy cause.
Golf for a Good Cause
The flagship fundraising event is an annual golf outing at Roycebrook Golf Club in New Jersey. The event is attended by dozens of friends and colleagues from Micciulli’s trading days, including golfers from CME Group who regularly travel from Chicago. Other participating firms include Goldman Sachs, R.J. O’Brien & Associates, Latium Capital, Citibank and Wells Fargo. This year’s outing featured 128 golfers.
One regular participant is Joe Raia, managing director of global commodity futures at Chicago’s R.J. O'Brien.
“There is a very tight knit community in the New York futures industry who grew up in and around Staten Island. That’s where I grew up; in fact I went to the same high school as Billy. When our community lose someone like Billy, it hits all of us really hard,” Raia said. “This charity has done a great job of honoring his memory with good works in and around New York. I’ve been a supporter for many years, and it’s heartwarming to see how much support it continues to receive from our industry.”
Personal connections like this have helped the group grow and thrive, even as some 9/11 efforts have faded away. It’s important for those associated with the charity to make sure that “never forget” isn’t just a slogan on a T-shirt.
“It’s not always easy. There are bad days. But it’s easy to get together to celebrate Billy’s life, and what he meant to all of us,” Mehnert says. “I’ll never forget him. And I don’t want anyone else to forget him either.”