The Tunnel to Towers Foundation and New Jersey Commission on Holocaust Education Announce Inaugural 9/11 Essay Contest Winner

NEW YORK [MARCH 22, 2024] – The Tunnel to Towers Foundation’s 9/11 Institute and the New Jersey Commission on Holocaust Education, announced Amber Olexa has won the inaugural 9/11 NEVER FORGET Mobile Exhibit Essay Contest.

Olexa is an 8th-grade student at Alpha Public School in Warren County, NJ.

Her essay captured her mother’s 9/11 experience and how the country came together in the wake of the attack.

The goal is to educate students about the events that transpired on 9/11 and highlight the everyday heroes who helped America recover in the days and weeks after the 9/11 attacks.

Her essay read in part, “My mother, Jill Olexa, experienced the 9/11 attacks first hand…She will never forget the things she saw; the lives that were lost, the nauseating screams that escaped from the mouths of innocent people, and the American dreams that were crushed. But more importantly, my mother will never forget the pride that she felt in her fellow Americans. She is forever moved by the noble and brave acts that were carried out by normal civilians…Jill Olexa witnessed America unite as a family, and care for each other like one too.”

Amber Olexa, 9/11 NEVER FORGET Mobile Exhibit Essay Contest Winner

Hundreds of New Jersey students from 36 school districts in 17 counties submitted essays that were judged by the Tunnel to Towers 9/11 Institute™ and the New Jersey Commission on Holocaust Education.

“The response to the inaugural 9/11 NEVER FORGET Mobile Exhibit Essay Contest by New Jersey’s students and teachers is impressive,” said Doug Cervi, Executive Director of the New Jersey Commission on Holocaust Education. “The submissions reflect a deep understanding of the importance of preserving memory and learning from history. As an organization committed to these principles, we are proud to see our state’s young minds engaging with such dedication.”

Amber Olexa won a visit from the Tunnel to Towers’ Foundation 9/11 NEVER FORGET Mobile Exhibit which will take place this spring.

The 9/11 Never Forget Mobile Exhibit is a one-of-a-kind traveling museum bringing the history of that tragic day to cities across the country. It’s a high-tech, tractor-trailer that transforms into an interactive exhibit, with 9/11 artifacts and guided tours carried out by retired members of the FDNY who experienced 9/11 firsthand.

The Tunnel to Towers 9/11 Institute is the Foundation’s September 11, 2001 education program. It is the go-to resource for educators of all types to get the non-fiction, first-person resources they need to teach children across the country about the extraordinary heroism and goodness of everyday people who inspired our nation and demonstrated the strength and resilience of America’s spirit.

It launched in September of 2022 to help educators inform kids in Kindergarten through Grade 12 about 9/11. In the less than two years it has been available the Institute’s 9/11 Curriculum is in use in all 50 states and Puerto Rico.  

The promise to NEVER FORGET is at the core of the Tunnel to Towers Foundation. This contest was an opportunity for hundreds of students born after that tragic day to discover the remarkable tales of heroism displayed not only by our first responders but by ordinary Americans who stepped forward to help,” said Frank Siller, Chairman and CEO of Tunnel to Towers Foundation.

Media Contacts:

Brianna Doherty- New Jersey Commission on Holocaust Education –

Trevor Tamsen – Tunnel to Towers Foundation –

About the Tunnel to Towers Foundation:

Born from the tragedy of 9/11, the Tunnel to Towers Foundation carries out its mission to “do good,” by providing mortgage-free homes to Gold Star and fallen first responder families with young children and by building specially adapted smart homes for catastrophically injured veterans and first responders. Tunnel to Towers is also committed to eradicating veteran homelessness and helping America Never Forget September 11, 2001.

Visit to learn more and follow Tunnel to Towers on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.

About the New Jersey Commission on Holocaust Education:

The core mission of the New Jersey Commission on Holocaust Education is to promote Holocaust education in the State of New Jersey. On a continual basis, the Commission shall survey the status of Holocaust/Genocide Education; design, encourage and promote the implementation of Holocaust and genocide education and awareness; provide programs in New Jersey; and coordinate designated events that will provide appropriate memorialization of the Holocaust on a regular basis throughout the state. The Commission will provide assistance and advice to the public and private schools and will meet with county and local school officials, and other interested public and private organizations, to assist with the study of the Holocaust and genocide.

For more information please see their website.