Commack resident James Ryder worked around the clock, securing the perimeter of Ground Zero and searching for bodies buried in the rubble of the collapsed World Trade Center buildings in the days immediately following the Sept. 11 attacks.
Soon after, Ryder was transferred to the NYPD's Office of Management and Planning, where he and two fellow officers created a DNA database used to identify the remains of 9/11 victims. For the next four years, Ryder combed through debris from Ground Zero to recover victims' personal items including jewelry and photographs, and return them to their families.
A decade later, the now-retired NYPD officer and former U.S. Marine volunteers with the FealGood Foundation, a group of first responders that campaigns tirelessly to raise awareness and funds to help those suffering the long-term mental and physical effects of working at Ground Zero. Ryder serves as the Director of Political Affairs for the non-profit.
Having spent his last four years on the job in direct contact with 9/11 debris, Ryder now suffers from a laundry list of ailments including severe sleep apnea and PTSD.
The father of four continues to work with the FealGood Foundation in the fight to provide first repsonders with the medical treatment they deserve.