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President's Message from Lori Candela

Lori Candela | Published on 9/13/2022
Hello fellow coaches,

This week kicked off on Sunday with two important days:  the 21st anniversary of the 9-11 attack and Grandparents’ Day. Each evokes emotional memories that continue to influence me in vastly different ways.

Grandparents’ Day, which fell on September 11 this year, is an opportunity to treasure the special connection between grandparents and children. I spent time that day looking at old pictures and sharing stories about my grandparents with my family to honor their memory and the life lessons they imparted. 

From my grandparents I learned to strive even under difficult circumstances and to carry tenacity with you wherever you go. My paternal grandfather came to the United States as a teenager from the Carpathian Mountains and carried his strong Russian accent with him throughout his life. He was stern-looking, but also had a sparkle in his eye and a sense of humor. I remember my grandmother, too, rocking in her rocking chair and providing for her family by making chicken soup every Sunday, baking, and making quilts and crocheted afghans for her nine children and thirty-seven grandchildren. She was quiet but had that same sparkle in her eye and sense of humor. My maternal grandparents passed before I go to know them. Their decision to leave Ukraine as teenagers to reach for new opportunities is something for which I am deeply grateful. The strength and perseverance of all my grandparents has had a profound impact on my life. 

With Grandparents’ Day coinciding with the anniversary of the 9/11 terrorist attacks this year, I thought about how many of those killed might have been grandparents. The loss from that day breaks my heart. I observed the anniversary of 9/11 with my husband at a special Mass held by the Diocese of Bridgeport to honor fire, police and first responders. My husband recently retired from the Bridgeport Fire Department after 34 years of service. I will never forget watching him and several other firefighters running, with gear in hand, to catch the train to NYC after their shift on September 12. They were heading there to help with the search and rescue efforts. They mourn the 343 FDNY firefighters that were lost. They mourn the thousands of people that could not be saved.

As coaches, we understand that memories help guide so much of our thinking of and behavior. I encourage you to never forget the legacy of your own grandparents and the impact their lives have had on yours, as well as all of those we lost on 9/11. 

With gratitude,