Bill O'Reilly Reveals His Soft Side
The Fox News anchor's Tuesday's Children looks out for kids who lost loved ones during 9/11
This story first appeared in the Sept. 19 issue of The Hollywood Reporter magazine.
For once, it's hard for anyone to disagree with Bill O'Reilly. The Fox News Channel's biggest ratings grabber — and sometimes most polarizing personality — long has been advocating for and helping fund Tuesday's Children, a New York-based nonprofit family service that still, after 13 years, offers guidance, special events and other programs for children and spouses who lost loved ones during the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks. "My campaign is to raise awareness that 9/11 continues, that these kids need to be supported by Americans," O'Reilly, 64, tells THR. "It's the right thing to do."
Clearly, there has been no letup in terror since 9/11 — as headlines from Iraq and elsewhere make brutally clear. But Tuesday's Children's mission has grown with the threat, and the group now assists families impacted by mass killings of all sorts, including the 2012 Sandy Hook shootings in Connecticut (it works with the Resiliency Center of Newtown). It also launched Project Common Bond, a camp for kids whose lives have been disrupted by terror (this summer it was in Pennsylvania).
Among the more than 2,000 American kids whom the group has helped: Patrick Hannaford, 15, and his brother, Kevin, 12, whose father worked at Cantor Fitzgerald in the World Trade Center (where 658 of its employees died that day). Thanks to Tuesday's Children, Patrick and Kevin have, over the years, been treated to a water taxi ride with the New York Yankees, a tour of NHL headquarters and a trip to Don Imus' ranch in New Mexico. Meeting O'Reilly, says Kevin, was a big moment in itself. "My grandma watches [his] show all the time," he says. "I even read his book Killing Kennedy."
For O'Reilly, who lives in New York in the Long Island community of Manhasset, where 50 residents died on 9/11, keeping the memory of the attack alive is an ongoing mission. "My neighborhood is different," he says, "because we are still furious in a very personal way." The trick, he says, is to channel that anger into productive avenues. "In my job, I try to expose evil. But in my private life, I try to fund charities that help those who have been touched by evil. I'm lucky to have that platform."
O'Reilly with (from left) Patrick Hannaford and his brother, Kevin; Caralyn Fitzpatrick and her brother, Brendan; and Rebecca Anaya — all of whom lost their fathers on 9/11.
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