Welles Crowther was born in 1977 in Nyack, New York. Growing up in Nyack, Crowther competed in hockey, soccer and lacrosse. He always had an affinity for firefighting, so at the age of 16 he joined as a volunteer firemen at his local department.
After high school, Welles attended Boston College on a lacrosse scholarship. True to his roots, he always wore his signature red bandana underneath his helmet. His teammates described Welles as a great friend and hard-working teammate.
After graduation, Welles took a job as an equities trader at a prominent investment bank in New York City. In 2001, Welles called his father and said he was having doubts about his career choice. He knew that if he continued to work in front of a computer screen he would go crazy.
On September 11, 2001, Welles was working on the 104th floor of the south tower at the World Trade Center. He was right in the thick of the explosion when the 2nd plane crashed into the skyscraper. Welles immediately transitioned into his role as a volunteer firefighter and began searching for a way out. He found the only working staircase and began leading injured people to safety. Once he got them to safety on a lower floor, he climbed back up the stairs, into the blaze to continue the rescue effort. Crowther ended up going back three times in an attempt to save as many people as he could. As he climbed back up the third time, the tower collapsed.
His parents waited weeks for a sign of Welles, and finally they got one. A woman who had survived the attacks spoke about the man who saved her life in a news release. She described him as her guardian angel – the man with the red bandana.
Welles did not lose his life; he gave it up so that others could live. He is credited with directly saving 12 civilians that day, all of which are forever grateful that Welles Crowther was at work that fateful morning.
Be Like Welles – Be calm in a crisis
Nothing could have prepared Welles for the events that would unfold on September 11, 2001. Despite the chaos around him, Welles managed to focus on what he could do and tried to draw on his training as best as possible. He recognized that his training made him the most qualified person on the floor to help out, and so he did.
When something doesn’t go according to plan, whether at work or in your personal life, relax and focus. Often bad decisions are made when men let their emotions get the better of them. Take an extra minute to think about all options and make the best decision you can at the time. If you get trapped in an elevator and the other patrons are panicking – be the calming presence and take control of the situation. Individuals look for leadership in times of crisis and we as men must be ready for anything.
Be Like Welles – Volunteer
Welles made the ultimate sacrifice for people he didn’t even know. Very few men could do what he did, but helping others is something we all can do.
Volunteer your time. Whether it is at a local food bank or with a youth sports league, find a way to give back to the community. You’re too busy? That’s a lie you tell yourself to ease the guilt. There are many ways to lend a hand in your community, find the one that fits and give it your best effort. You’ll find the reward is more satisfying than money.
Be Like Welles – Do what you love
In his final hour, Welles was able to participate in one of the most famous firefighting experiences in history. He always wanted to be a fireman, and in a cruel twist of fate, he died doing what he loved.
If you wake up every morning and dread going to work – make a change. Life is too short and waking up tomorrow is no guarantee. The best chance you have at being successful is to find something you love and work as hard as you can at it. If you really love what you do, it will never seem as if you’re working.