DAYTON, Ohio (WDTN) — When people think about 9/11, they typically remember the tragedy on that day in New York 20 years ago. However, some Dayton-area residents have found a way to honor a friend who lost her life in the attack by giving back to the community.
“Kristy Irvine (Ryan) was a University of Dayton grad, ” said Kelly Uhl, Kristy’s friend and current board member of Secret Smiles. “She grew up in New York City [then] came to Dayton, following her big sister Tracy. They moved back to New York City and she worked for an investment firm in the Twin Towers.”
Unfortunately, Kristy was working in the second Tower on Sept. 11, 2001. She died in the attack. But, her death sparked a project that has lived on for decades.
“Her roommate was a school teacher in a low income community in New York City and was identifying families who were in need. So Kristy’s role was getting the funds from donors, and her roommate’s role was identifying families that were in need,” Uhl said.
Together, they began donating household items like towels and bedding to those families through the anonymous donors. After Kristy died, her sister Tracy and other friends decided to continue that work through Secret Smiles — donating beds and other items to local families.
“We’re having one of our ‘Day to Dream’ events on Saturday, and this one’s particularly special for us because it is in honor and celebration of the founder of Secret Smiles,” said Anna Brown, vice president of talent management at Morris Home.
At that event, Morris Home Furniture will collaborate with Secret Smiles to donate 50 beds to Dayton-area children, including mattresses, bedding, box springs and books.
“Sleep is such an important part of health and wellness and productivity, that to be able to give this to children in the Dayton-area, we couldn’t be more proud,” Brown said.
And while Uhl said her friend Kristy lost her life too soon, she’s grateful for the legacy she left behind.
“September 11 creates so much sadness and angst with people, so you’re always looking for any part that can be good,” Uhl said. “And so many children have gotten beds and received the kindness of Kristy.”
To donate learn how to donate to Secret Smiles or to request a bed for your child, click here.