Pregnant Flight 93 victim honored by husband's lasting tribute

Yahoo 9/11 10th Anniversary

Ten years after her death on Sept. 11, 2001, Lauren Catuzzi Grandcolas still inspires people. That's not an accident. Her husband, Jack, insists that her legacy be a living one.


Lauren -- along with 39 other passengers and the flight crew -- died when United Flight 93, having been hijacked by terrorists, went down in a field near Shanksville, Pa. It was the flight that fought back against the attackers, preventing the plane from reaching its target in Washington, D.C. The heroism of those passengers -- and their battle cry, "Let's Roll"-- lives on as part of the tragic story of 9/11.

For Jack, the sudden death of his wife carried additional grief. Lauren, 38, was pregnant, and Jack, suddenly without his family, was thrust into a world of pain and loneliness, engulfed by a dark depression. It was Lauren's spirit, in many ways, that gave him the strength he needed to fight his way out of it.

When Lauren turned 30, Jack remembers, she wanted to do something adventurous: skydiving. Jack says Lauren encouraged him to try it as well. And he did.

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Jack and Lauren Grandcolas.

Jack and Lauren Grandcolas.

That was Lauren, celebrating through doing -- and inviting someone along for the ride. To honor her spirit, Jack and Lauren's family started the Lauren Catuzzi Grandcolas Foundation, a philanthropic organization that helps people attain their life goals. One of the foundation's key acts is financially supporting a state-of-the-art birthing room at Marin General Hospital in Greenbrae, Calif.

For Jack, helping hundreds of babies come into the world transformed what had been a personal tragedy into something truly life affirming. Today, he proudly looks back at the families the foundation has helped start off on the right foot.

But he didn't stop there. Jack and Lauren's sisters decided to finish a book project Lauren had dreamed of completing. The book, "You Can Do It!: The Merit Badge Handbook for Grown-Up Girls," was published in 2005 by Chronicle Books. It's targeted at women who want to learn new skills or try new things such as photography, scuba diving or training for a triathlon.


As the 10th anniversary of 9/11 approaches, Jack understands the importance of remembering and memorializing the tragic events surrounding 9/11. For him, what stood out the most about Lauren was her way of rejecting passivity and taking hold of life.

Even as she faced death, Jack believes, Lauren must have taken action on tragic Flight 93. Lauren, a trained emergency medical technician, would certainly have aided someone in need, Jack says. For him, the life story of Lauren Catuzzi Grandcolas is one of jumping in and acting on her beliefs. It's a legacy that he, along with Lauren's family, hopes to continue to share with as many people as possible.

Video produced, shot and edited by Ricky Montalvo, Brad Williams and James Kelly for Yahoo! Studios.

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