Sister of 9/11 victim helps raise $1.5M for Tunnel to Towers Foundation

For Kathy Cunningham, it is no ordinary cross.

"This was given to me shortly after 9/11," she said. "This is steel from the Trade Center."

It is steel from the towers where her late brother, Donnie Robertson, lost his life.

She keeps the cross close to the dozens of family photos in her living room.

"It's all I really have," she said. "My brother was never recovered."

Donnie Robertson, Jr worked on the 100th floor of the North Tower with Cantor Fitzgerald.  He was 35 yerars old and a father of four.

"His legacy deserves to be maintained. For not only for my parents that are still alive, his children, his friends, he deserves that. and we like to think of how he lived rather than how he left us," Cunningham said.

Kathy heard about the Tunnel to Towers Foundation in the first few years after the attacks. She remembers the first year she ran the annual race.

"I took my baseball hat and I took a sharpie, and I put Donnie's initials on the side of it. I had no idea what I was going for and I went and it was a game changer. Life changing," she said.

Participating in the run helped inspire her to raise money for the T2T Foundation.  What started small, grew to the creation of Team Shamrock in honor of her brother.

"My brother had a shamrock tattoo on his hip, and a love and passion for our heritage and our Irish heritage.

"We have over 500 runner walkers with Team Shamrock. Every year, you see a sea of green, and they run with my brother's name on the back of those shirts, and with the green bands on their wrist, and, and a picture of a young man at age 35 with four children, like yourself, and like me, that left us way too soon."

It's now the #1 fundraising team for Tunnel to Towers and has helped raise more than $1.5 million over the years.  The money has been put to good use, including the creation of two state of the art smart homes for wounded veterans like New Jersey native Scott Nokes.

"He's not here physically. but he's still with us. and that's my job to keep them still with us. I think that if we didn't have that, we'd all be in a pretty dark place. you know that we can't take that sadness and turn it into something positive."