STOKED Invited to Close Nasdaq on Anniversary of 9/11
Imagine getting a call two days before the anniversary of September 11 asking if you wanted to be part of the closing bell ceremony for the NASDAQ stock market. When I first got the call from Flo Wiener, Executive Director at Catalog for Giving, I couldn't really comprehend the magnitude of what she asked me. Closing the stock market is one thing. Closing the stock market on September 11 is totally another.
I say this because I'm a native New Yorker. I lived here at the time during the terrorist attacks, and I lived not too far from where everything took place. When September rolls around, my heart sinks because I remember that day like it was yesterday. For STOKED to be chosen as one of the nine charities that help close the market on the 14th anniversary truly meant something to me, both personally and professionally. Catalog for Giving is one of our most important funding partners, they've chosen STOKED to be part of their portfolio of organizations for six years. STOKED is considered one of the most promising and emerging youth development programs in New York City. What an honor. This amazing opportunity came through Catalog for Giving's partnership with Cantor Fitzgerald, which puts on a huge charity day in honor of their employees who passed away that day.
I arrived in Time Square at the Nasdaq headquarters and saw a few other organizations part of the Catalog that were there: Breakthrough New York, Atlas DIY, and New York City Urban Debate League. In addition to us there was Evolve, 52nd St. project, Kids Fight Cancer, and the Cantor Fitzgerald Relief Fund.
After waiting a few minutes, we went through security and received instructions before we headed into the closing bell area. Inside, it was full of cameras, stock tickers, Nasdaq signage and branding. There was a window facing the middle of Times Square. We did a few practice runs where all of us and all of the organizations got behind the closing bell podium and took some photos.
Then the vice president of NASDAQ came out and introduced himself. He also honored all the organizations present. We then were called back to the podium to actually do the countdown. We saw the timer on a big screen counting down and everyone started clapping. I pulled out my camera and start taking photos because I realized that this is an opportunity that not a lot of people experience. The clapping got louder and when the timer reached zero, the ringers closed the stock market for the day. It was broadcasted live in Times Square and on CNBC. After, we took a few more photos and headed out to Times Square to take even more photos and then I talked with some of the other organizations.
More importantly what a lot of people don't know is that September 11 and what happened in 2001 was a pivotal moment in my life. At the time I was running my own marketing company. After September 11, I really started to question my purpose in life. It was that curiosity that eventually led me to question my role in society which then led to becoming a mentor to foster children. It was while I was mentoring that I closed my marketing company, partly due to the economic effects of 9/11, and started working at the non profit mentoring program. I actually helped recruit mentors for a mentoring program for children who lost a parent during 9/11 — it was there that I got the idea to do STOKED. I wanted to help children become more resilient from the difficulties in their life. Many lives were lost on September 11 but I would say that September 11 saved my life because I was able to see my purpose through that tragedy. Which is one of the reasons why helping to close the stock market was a monumental event for me personally and professionally. Getting to experience that gives me the confidence and belief that we can do everything we can to improve society and give kids a chance to be successful adults.