Beliefnet
Douglas A. MacMillan was one of the many people whose lives were profoundly changed by the events of 9/11. His close friend Todd Beamer was killed trying to wrest control of United Flight 93 from hijackers. Within days, the story of Todd's bravery, his last known words, "Let's Roll," and his widow's plight had prompted hundreds of donations to the family. A few weeks later, MacMillan gave up his job to become executive director of the Todd M. Beamer Memorial Foundation, dedicated helping to raise funds for children affected by 9/11.

How did you get to know Todd?
We first met playing softball together for our church team, then we found out Todd and Lisa lived just a couple houses down from us. Todd and I were also part of a men's Friday morning breakfast group. A bunch of us got together at 6:30 every week. It was an accountability group based on being vulnerable and then holding each other accountable.

How did you come to work with the Beamer Foundation?
Todd was my best friend, and my wife and Lisa are best friends. Right after Todd's story came out, Lisa started receiving donations from people around the world. She told me, "I don't want to profit from this. What can we do?" I said let's start a foundation

In the five years before Sept. 11, 2001, the phrase "Let's Roll" appears on the Nexis media search engine 1,185 times. In the year following, it appeared 2,525 times.

as a way of continuing Todd's legacy. She agreed, but said, "I want you to run it." It started growing so rapidly that I ended up resigning my job in medical sales to run it full time in October of 2001.

What's the purpose of the foundation?
Our mission is to equip children facing family trauma to make heroic choices every day. We're offering a three-day, high-impact experiential learning retreat to children who either lost a parent in 9/11 or were affected firsthand by the events. It's going to be done in conjunction with mentoring and curriculum to help their growth and development.

How many children do you hope to help?
There were over 400,000 in Manhattan who saw the Twin Towers come down. So although they didn't lose a parent, they are still severely traumatized by it. Our range will be a 90-mile radius from New York City. That's our target short-term. In the longterm it's children in general who are experiencing trauma.

How much money has been collected so far?
We've raised more than $3 million dollars.

Will it be a Christian program?
The underlying theme of all we do is to respond out of love because that's what Christ asked us to do. And there will be an optional faith-based segment at the retreat center. But the program itself is broad-based. It's going to help children across the borders of race and religion and ethnicity. It's based on proven principles of how we can help the children. We have a consultant in the process now to help us refine our mission statement and our business plan and putting together the program.

Are you building a retreat center?
We're looking in a 90-mile radius of the city for a facility that's pre-existing, so we're not wasting money or time. We want to get an effective program in front of these children as soon as possible.

Will money be given to the families, or will you only provide services
The program will be free, but we're not awarding grants.

Is there a pastoral advisor?
On our board is a youth pastor Keith Fran, a youth pastor in Lancaster, Pa., who went to college with Todd. We're in the process of expanding our board to bring on more world-known experts in terms of child psychology and pastorship, with more clout and more experience that can give us better expertise and so donors can see we have the best people in place to help us.

Mrs. Beamer has been speaking to Christian groups, as she tells about in her book. Are most of your contributions from Christians?
In fact, most of Lisa's appearances have been for secular audiences. Lisa's opinion is that she'll always be able to talk to the Christians. She doesn't want to preach to the choir. She feels this is an opportunity for her to speak to those who want to know how she can do this.

Our donations have come from 30 different countries, from all over the United States. It's run the gamut. So far all of it has been unsolicited. Communities get together to raise funds and send it to us. And the donations are unspent. Our overhead to date has been covered by gifts from our board of directors. We're trying to be great stewards with the money we've got. It's sitting in an account and not a bit of it has been wasted.

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