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September 9, 2011

Ten years after America underwent the terrorist attacks on September 11th, some amazing survivors have overcame the adversity and went on to thrive during the last decade.

Firefighter Tim Brown Survived 9-11 and Now Advocates for Other 9-11 Survivors

As a firefighter, Tim Brown was working on the aftermath of the Oklahoma City bombing and never expected to experience another such horrific event in his lifetime. But six years later, the 9-11 terrorist attacks struck the World Trade Center in New York and Brown was there to help. Brown survived but more than 90 of his firefighter friends died on that fateful day.

When the first plane stuck, Brown was eating cereal and reading the paper in the cafeteria across from the twin towers. He rushed to his car to put on his boots and helmet as debris and people were falling from above.

When he reached the chaos in the towers, he ran into some firefighter friends and said goodbye for the final time as they ascended the stairs into the towers looking for survivors. Brown would never see them again.

Despite the panic at ground zero, Brown coordinated an exit strategy with local and state officials. When the building began to fall, Brown brought survivors safely into a nearby hotel.

Since the 9-11 attacks, Brown has advocated for emergency personnel and their families who have not survived cancer caused from working on the World Trade Center cleanup. Brown has also become a spokesman for the families of 9/11 victims.

Ron DiFrancesco the Last Survivor to Exit the South Tower Remembers 9-11

DiFrancesco is the last known survivor to have exited the South Tower of the World Trade Center before it collapsed on September 11, 2001 and is reported to be one of only four to have survived from above the 81st floor.

When the first plane struck the North Tower, DiFrancesco, 37, could see smoke from his office window on the 84th floor of the South Tower. Moments after evacuating his office, the second plane struck the South Tower between the 77th and 85th floors.

After the impact flung him against a wall, DiFrancesco rushed to a nearby stairwell and joined a group of people heading upwards to escape the brutal flames below.

The doors on each landing were automatically locked to prevent smoke from invading the whole building. DiFrancesco began to panic as the smoke caused breathing to become a burden and he headed back down.

When he reached a landing in the impact zone, he noticed others lying on the floor searching for air, but an internal voice told him to keep going. He rushed down nearly 80 flights of stairs with his forearm covering his facing struggling for oxygen. When he reached the ground, a security guard pointed him to an exit.

As DiFrancesco was about to leave, a roar of tearing metal indicated the building's imminent collapse.

He turned and saw a fireball heading straight towards him.

He awoke days later in a hospital with a broken back, lacerations to his head and burns all over his body -- a 9-11 survivor.

Now 47 living in Toronto, Canada, DiFrancesco says the memories of 9-11 are as real as the fateful day 10-years ago but his near-death experience on 9-11 changed DiFrancesco's outlook on life.

"For me, being so close to death, I don't fear dying or moving on," he says. "When I was almost down and out, I did see the light, and I was prepared to go, but I'm here. … If I was to die tomorrow I would hate leaving my wife and kids, but I don't fear dying now."

Although 9-11 was a tragic experience for Ron DiFrancesco, he has learned to fully appreciate exactly what is important to him: family and living a full life. During the last decade, DiFrancesco has given back to charity events and helps those in need.

9-11 Burn Survivor Lauren Manning Signs Book Deal for 10-Year Anniversary

A woman nearly burned to death in the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks of the New York World Trade Center is prepared to share her story in a memoir, "Unmeasured Strength" which was released in August as a tribute to the memory of those lost 10 years ago in the attacks.

Her book "is the story of her incredible transformation, both mentally and physically, in the wake of such an unforeseen and drastic change" and "how the experience of life is so much more than the story of a single terrible day," writers her publisher.

New York Firefighter Joe Torrillo Travels the US to Speak

A 9/11 survivor and retired New York City firefighter traveled to Pierre, South Dakota to speak at the Patriot Flag ceremony in August.

Joe Torrillo arrived at the World Trade Center minutes before the second plane struck during the 9/11 terrorist attacks in 2001.

As he was leading people to safety from the south tower, Torrillo was buried in debris from the first collapse. He survived.

Now Torrillo travels across the country sharing his story of survival to many attentive audiences.

More 9-11 Survivor Stories from The Survivors Club

Osama Bin Laden's Death Cathartic for 9-11 Survivors

4 Incredible 9/11 Survivor Stories

Surviving PTSD for 9-11 Survivors
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