Reclaiming My 9/11 Birthday

I was born on September 11.  My birthday has come to stand for something terrible.  I want to reclaim that day and help make it represent something wonderful.  Many thanks to Beth Kanter ( for turning me on to the September campaign over at charity: water.

charity: water was founded two years ago after Scott Harrison visited Africa and saw the women and children spending a significant portion of their time trekking miles just to bring home dirty, poluted water. Last year, he turned 32 and asked people to donate $32 toward building wells in Kenya in lieu of birthday gifts.  This year, both Scott and I turn 33.  And I’m happy to be joining him in asking for just $33 toward a well in Ethiopia.

These kids need water a whole lot more than you or I need just about anything.

charity: water describes the “September Mission” this way: “most of us get presents on our birthday. lots of them are things we don’t really need. But in many places in the world, people don’t have access to the most basic necessity: clean, safe drinking water. because charity: water was born in september, we’re starting the september campaign. We’re asking everyone born in september to ask for donations instead of presents for their birthdays, and help give 150,000 people in Ethiopia acess to safe, clean drinking water.”

I think charity: water has been so successful in such a short period of time (having built hundreds of wells already) because they are pretty transparent.  Donors and observers get to see the wells being built through live feeds (the first well in Ethiopia will go live on the site September 7.  Watch it here), and they even use Google Earth to allow you to zoom in and see the wells long afterward.

[Update September 2009: A collection of new ideas for celebrating a 9/11 birthday found here]

Will You Please Be One of the 30?

My goal is to raise $1,000, which is enough to pay for 1/4th the cost of a well.  I believe in the generosity of my family and friends, and of the extended philanthropic family I’ve come to know through social media sites like Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn.  Even if you weren’t going to buy me a present personally (no offense taken), I hope you’ll help me reclaim 9/11 as a day of positive celebration and love of humanity.

Just follow this link to my charity: water September birthday page and donate. We only need 30 donors to reach $1000. Actually, since I just donated $40 (to cover my $33 and to make up some of the difference between $33×30 and $1,000), we only need 29 more donors. [update 9/11: so far we’ve raised $600 toward this goal! Thank you to all who have donated.  Only 12 more people!]

And If you’re a September baby, start you own page!  If you love someone born in September, you could donate in their name. And if you do nothing else, pass on this campaign. The direct link is

Other September Babies Speak

17 year-old Catherine Luu says “Can you imagine children younger than you and I not going to school in order to walk miles to a water source, that only contains filthy water? Well you don’t have to. 1.1 billion people do not have access to clean water.  This year I turn 17, and instead of buying me a gift, please donate to this charitable cause.”

15-year-old Keely O’Laughlin says: “I’m turning 15 this year. In Australia we are having a drought, but we still have showers, clean water, swimming pools, and we waste billions of litres of water per year. These people can’t even safely get to their water holes, let alone get clean water they need. I have a responsibily to my fellow man to do what I can. $33 isn’t much to ask. It’s the price of a t-shirt, which we might not even wear often. Or 10 hot chocolates (no matter how good they are). A very small thing to give up for someone to live a bit easier.”

thomas bouldin emery was born sept. 1 2008. his parents are committed to africa and helping to provide sustainable solutions to who we feel are some of the world’s most joyful but vulnerable people. In place of traditional gifts for his birthday, please consider donating to this great cause.”

Aileen Ryan is turning 21 this year and she says to her friends: “Many of you know me well enough to warrant our friendship with a present on my birthday and many of you don’t. But this year I’d like to ask everyone to donate their thoughtful idea of a gift to help build water wells to those in need. A present to me could bring a days worth of excitement to my life but a gift of a well could bring years of health and happiness to an entire village in need. I’m beyond fortunate in my life and so this year I’d like a gift from you to be given to someone who really needs it. Thanks for making this my best birthday so far!”


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21 Responses to “Reclaiming My 9/11 Birthday”

  1. Amanda Reeder Says:

    My birthday was also tiday. Nice to see others looking for one another.

  2. Laura Dean Says:

    I’m involved with a project made by other people with 9/11 birthdays, like myself. I’m wondering if you could email me so we can be in touch about it- it would be really great if you could participate and I will send you some more information.

    • amanda Says:

      Hello- My birthday is Sept.11 also and I would love to participate. What have your discovered?

  3. iGoogle “Themes for Causes” « The Philanthropic Family Says:

    […] gifts, and many thousands more from others like me. Check out my write-up of their campaign here). Heavy on environmental orgs and disaster/development organizations like Oxfam, Mercy Corps and […]

  4. New Mom Says:

    I have been contemplating recently how it must feel to have a September 11 birthday. My daughter was born on September 10 this year, but it was close enough that I feel I can really sympathize with the difficulties of those with September 11 birthdays. I realize this might be an extremely lofty idea, but perhaps it is time to re-evaluate the name we have given the event. I realize it was catchy, because of it’s ironic association with a 911 emergency, but I cannot recall another event in history that was named by it’s date, regardless of how tragic (ex. Pearl Harbor or any other bombing/tragic event that I can think of). Perhaps a petition to Congress could be started, which might best be initiated by those who have 9-11 birthdays, maybe even a couple celebrities with these birthdays could further the cause? Perhaps a new Congress and administration would be willing to consider something like this, as a means to respect the past as well as the present and future–perhaps as part of the 10th Anniversary. I mean no disrespect to those who were affected by the event, which was all of us. I read that there are over 1 million Americans with this birthday, and growing. There might be a strong consensus among our public to consider this, if it was presented with sensitivity. In the meantime, you have every right to celebrate your birthday, ON your birthday and with joy.

    Best wishes,
    New Mom

  5. gideon Says:

    I was also born on 9/11 96 is there any way I can help?

    • Sharon Schneider Says:

      Yes! If you would like to participate this year (2009) just visit I have also seen a bunch of “birthday wishes” come through Facebook so you can use that application to let friends and family know that you’d like to raise donations this year instead of more stuff. Thanks for your concern for others. Sharon.

  6. dirtqueen4 Says:

    i was born sept. 11 94 i googled my b-day and got u

  7. SGT GARY Says:


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  9. Archuletta Says:

    i was born sepf. 11 94 i googled my b-day and g0t u;

  10. Cattell Says:

    Wonderful post! gud stuff..

  11. Ekman Says:

    Thanks for the information, a great post.

  12. Cory shippen Says:

    Hey my birthday is on 9/11 and i turnedd 11 the day the towers where hit and 11 years after that day is 2012 when the worlds suppose to end does anyone think thats kind of strange!!!!

  13. Reclaiming My 9/11 Birthday: Run a Half-Marathon With Me on 9/11/11 « The Philanthropic Family Says:

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  17. Says:

    “Reclaiming My 9/11 Birthday The Philanthropic Family” in fact causes me contemplate a little bit extra.

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