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Survivor of September 11th terror attacks, Roy Chelsen was born in Brooklyn and raised in Staten Island. In his younger years, he was known for his determination, innate curiosity, quiet charisma, and athletic talent. His original life plan was to follow in the family footsteps and become an elevator constructor, which he did. Then, a group of his buddies decided to take the test for the Fire Department of New York. As always, Roy invited the challenge to compete with the boys. His amazing career as a proud FDNY firefighter commenced. In the firehouse, Roy was known for his leadership, quick wit, talent for cooking, but most of all, living the motto of the firehouse “Do the Right Thing.” He believed in teamwork and community, hence his involvement with his son’s soccer team, volunteering for “Sports for Health” during the summer, and helping any brother in need.
Roy and his wife, Trish, worked hard and played hard. Together, they enjoyed volunteering, home improvement projects, motorcycling, the outdoors, and travel. Whether it was at the firehouse, renovation of his home, or that of a friend, Roy enjoyed working. Roy also modified their home to welcome and care for his dad.
A true hero, Roy responded to the catastrophic call on 9/11 with his 28/11 Fire Company. His Engine 28 Company helped many civilians escape the impending collapse of the Twin Towers that fateful day. As a true leader and decisive man, Roy led many of his fellow firefighters out of the building. Working tirelessly throughout the months that followed, he was exposed to the many toxins and dust at Ground Zero that subsequently affected his health and life.
There were a lot of heroic things done that day, many of them have been documented, many of them have been spoken about time and time again, He never spoke about it, he just thought he was doing his job…he was an unbelievably quiet leader. -Steven Cassidy, head of the Uniformed Firefighter Association
At Christmas time in 2005, Roy was diagnosed with a rare form of blood cancer called multiple myeloma. Despite grueling chemotherapy, a tandem stem cell transplant, and a forced retirement, Roy never gave up. Roy was a true Norwegian, dubbed “The Viking” by his fellow firefighters, strong in body and mind. His resilience allowed him to fight and win many battles along the way. Roy and his family worked diligently to find a match for Roy and others like Roy. With passion and determination, they organized and hosted numerous marrow drives through their non-profit foundation, “Be the Hero~For a Hero,” to increase awareness. Ultimately, he lost his war, but others will be saved.