Attached to Wethersfield’s community center was an old dilapidated indoor basketball court, until Judy Keane took control.
After losing her husband in the terrorist attack on 9/11 she formed the Keane Foundation. The town gave her the facility, which she has since transformed into a sports center, as a tribute to her husband Richard.
“We all talked about how Dick loved sports and he loved playing sports with his kids,” said Judy, who remembers her husband playing sports with their five sons.
Richard was one of three from Wethersfield lost that day. The 9/11 Memorial Sports Center memorializes him along with Jeffrey Bittner and David Winton. They were young men whom Richard coached when they were kids.
Outside the sports center is a significant reminder of what transpired on 9/11; a twisted steel beam from Ground Zero. It’s one of two meaningful artifacts handpicked for this facility.
Inside, hanging above an American flag with the names of all 9/11 victims, is another World Trade Center beam.
“You can see the rivets in it. You can see what actually happened to the steel,” said Keane, pointing to the rusty beam, twisted so much she says it looks like a fish. “It’s hard for to believe that steel could be bent like that.”
As Judy walked the facility this morning, she reflected on that fateful day, remembering her husband who only went to New York a few times a year for business, working for Marsh & McLennan.
“I did not know that Dick was going to be at the World Trade Center,” she recalls. “I knew he was going to be in New York but thought he was going to be at the midtown office.”
As the world mourns what happened 18 years ago, Judy finds comfort at the center, a place that has become a recreation hub. A place where the sounds of laughter and play live on in Wethersfield for people of all ages. Things that provide comfort as Judy remembers Richard.
“That’s always in my head on 9/11. The last moments that we had,” she said.
Judy says the foundation runs after school programs for five elementary schools in town, four days a week. However, to keep the program running they need to continue to raise funds. The foundation has a number of fundraising events scheduled, including a carnival coming up the weekend of October 18 – 20. Anyone who would like to support the cause can go to Keanefoundation.org.