In addition to grieving their losses, the Agrons would soon begin to deal with various health effects brought on by exposure to hazards and toxins at Ground Zero. Shortly after their time spent volunteering, both Sonia and her husband started to show various symptoms that resembled allergic reactions. Sonia experienced flu-like body aches, stomach issues, and rashes. Initially she did not connect her symptoms to her time at Ground Zero, instead using her age as an explanation for these pervasive ailments. It wasn’t until 2009, when she started volunteering at the 9/11 Tribute Center, that she met others experiencing similar symptoms. Through those volunteers, she learned about the possibility that toxins in the air around the site in the aftermath of 9/11 had made people ill.
The road to accepting that they needed help and receiving that help was not an easy one for Sonia and her husband. Sonia credits her daughter—who invoked a family motto “without hope, we cannot cope”—for helping her stay positive.
She also believes that her time spent at the 9/11 Memorial Museum as a docent has helped her heal.
"This was the best decision I could have made,” Sonia said. “I realize this is a place I need to be, sharing this story as we continue to heal.”
Sonia has told her story to visitors of the 9/11 Memorial Museum hundreds of times, but this year she will share it with a community that she feels deeply passionate about: students.
On September 11, 2020, Sonia and five others will share their stories as part of this year’s fifth annual Anniversary in the Schools webinar. Register for this free program here.
The webinar is made possible thanks to generous support from The New York Life Foundation.
By Eduardo Quezada, Education Specialist