Before the age of 30, Jennifer Louise Fialko learned to speak fluent Spanish and Portuguese, lived in Spain, graduated from the University of New Hampshire and had overcome a battle with Hodgkin’s Disease. On Aug. 6, 2001, the 29-year-old started a new job in the World Trade Center’s South Tower with AON Insurance Corporation. She was at work on the 92nd floor on the morning of 9/11.
In addition to her travels and physical resilience, Jennifer was remembered by family and friends for her outstanding athleticism. She was an avid water skier and served as varsity co-captain of both her softball and field hockey teams in high school. Her softball coach remembered Jennifer as “an inspiration to her teammates. She was an upbeat and laughing first baseman that respected her teammates, her coaches and herself.”
Jennifer’s softball glove is currently on view in the museum’s In Memoriam gallery. The glove, along with other objects newly on view in the space, were chosen to coincide with the opening of the Museum’s new special exhibition, "Comeback Season: Sports After 9/11."
Prior to working for AON, Jennifer participated on her previous company’s softball team. A former coworker and teammate recounted that Jennifer pinch hit a homerun during the team’s championship game while she was undergoing chemotherapy for her Hodgkin’s Disease. Jennifer’s hit helped usher the team to victory that year.
Beyond her athletic prowess, it was Jennifer’s positive attitude, team spirit and fair mindedness that inspired coaches at River Dell High School in New Jersey to create a scholarship for a graduating female varsity athlete each year. The Jennifer L. Fialko Memorial Scholarship has honored her legacy each year since the 9/11 attacks by awarding financial support to athletes that embody her values and who inspire others around them.
By Tara Prout, Memorial Exhibition and Registries Manager, 9/11 Memorial Museum