Audience Comments

"Many of the students that attended Mary and Susan's program were only 14 years old on September 11, 2001. To hear the stories and see the pictures were, for many, a life changing event. Thank-you!"

—Ann Wassenaar, Director
Valley State University


“Susan and Mary are great speakers.  What they said, and the quotes in the slide show, really made me think and not want to take my family and friends for granted.”

—University Student

“Mary Carouba's presentation, Women at Ground Zero, was inspiring, moving and invigorating. Mary has a wonderful sense of humor; she was delightful and funny while at the same time, she was challenging us to consider the huge emotional impact that 9/11 had on all of the women who assisted so heroically on that dreadful day. Mary Carouba is the only speaker to receive a standing ovation from Diablo Valley Women in Business. We were honored to hear her story”.

—Susan Wichmann
Diablo Valley Women in Business


"This presentation should have been required.  It was a wonderful program, and I don’t believe there was a dry eye in the audience after the powerpoint presentation.”

—University Student

"Susan and Mary's presentation to the American Association of University Women at our California State Convention inspired and energized the attendees. Their wit and insight provided everyone with a strong sense of the power of women and the importance of their contributions at Ground Zero. Susan and Mary are to be commended for making sure that these stories are recorded in our history."

—Sue Cochran, President
AAUW California

 “The Women at Ground Zero presentation was not only inspirational, but provided invaluable information for our law enforcement executives. Susan and Mary’s sense of humor and easy, comfortable speaking style made their talk seem intimate and personal, despite the large size of the audience. Many people remarked that these were the best speakers we’ve had at any of our conferences.”

 —Brenda Van Amburg
National Association of Women Law Enforcement Executives

"Mary and Susan have opened up so many doors of inspiration to women across the nation--especially by sharing stories about meeting the ultimate challenge of human character through tragedy.  For those who continue to underestimate the value of women as police officers and firefighters, Women at Ground Zero is a required read. The contributions and sacrifices of the women at Ground Zero were no less than those of the men that fateful day. On September 11, 2001 they were all heroes of the heart, defined by duty and courage."  

—Professor Mike Grabowski, Administration of Justice
Santa Rosa Junior College

Various Comments from University Students
about the Presentation:


“I was strongly impacted by this presentation and walked away from it feeling grateful and empowered.”

“The presentation focused not only on the women, but on all the people, many who were parents, who gave their lives to save others. It is so hard to think about growing up without my parents.  These haunting thoughts made me appreciate my parents more than ever before.  I called them right after the presentation and let them know that I love them and appreciate all they do for me.
“Even though the presentation was about a horrible event, there were moments of laughter that loosened things up.  The one part I thought was hilarious was when all of the New York women were in California visiting the Redwood Forest, and one of the women said she had never seen a real tree up close.”

“Mary and Susan’s presentation blew my mind.  I did not expect it to be as powerful as it was.  They did a phenomenal job.  Not only did they teach us about the women who served during 9/11, but they brought humor into the presentation.  I loved it.”

I thought the presentation might be dull or sad, but I was surprised to find it contained humor and captured my attention throughout the whole event.”

“I loved this presentation.  I would definitely see it again.  Before seeing it, I had never cried about 9/11, but seeing those faces and captions on the screen really touched me.  I hope that people forever honor the many heroes of 9/11.”

“The presentation had a huge impact on me.  I thought I would be looking at my watch, that I would get nothing out of it.  But I realized as my eyes filled with tears, that I had been greatly affected.  I am so glad I went to this talk and would go again, anytime, anywhere.”

“Seeing the image of tiny Patricia Mary, daughter of fallen police officer Moira Smith, receiving her mother’s medal of honor had a great impact on me.  It made me realize that lives were changed forever on 9/11, and it made me feel very grateful for what I have.”

“After attending the presentation I realized that I can’t take life for granted; I need to live life to the fullest.”

“It was an amazing presentation and I am very thankful I attended.  I was greatly moved by the way these two women followed what they knew was best.  Today, I followed their example.  I had declined in invitation to join an advisory board.  But I realized, if these women could travel across the country and give their hearts to these deserving people, I could help by being on the board.”

“Knowing Susan and Mary pulled off such a tremendous task, with so few resources, made me feel like I could leave that room at that very moment and accomplish anything I set out to do if I had the same determination they did!”


“I want to be more like Mary and Susan and the rescue workers by doing good and being just.”

“I’m sad to say that at the time it happened, 9/11 was more of a television show than reality to me.  But after seeing the pictures and hearing the stories, it became real to me.”

“I was very impressed that Mary and Susan were able to bring light-heartedness into such an emotional topic.  As they spoke, the reality hit me more than ever before; it could have been me, it could have been my family, my friends, my fellow students.  I had thought about that before, but something about their presentation really stayed with me.  I was astonished to hear the stories.”

“One thing that Susan and Mary’s response to 9/11 showed me is that an individual can indeed make a huge impact on this world.  These two women had the courage to leave their homes, which were far away from the danger, and travel right to the heart of the despair.  They had the passion and drive to take action.  I can now see the story of 9/11 from a different point of view and will pass on what I have learned as a way to honor the heroes.”

“I was moved to tears several times because of the music, pictures and words.  When a picture showed a young girl accepting her mother’s Medal of Honor, I cried for the child who would grow up without her mother.”

“These two women went out and did something that seemed impossible.  They didn’t let fear stop them.  That hit me personally because I am in a new place and fears come at me, and I feel like going home where it is comfortable.  But when Susan said, ‘Take your fear with you,’ that really touched me.  I decided that I am not going to let fear make me fail.”

“This presentation made me realize how wrapped up in myself I am.  Seeing the slide show and hearing the stories of unspeakable suffering that so many endured and still endure (post-traumatic stress) made me realize how selfish I am.  Mary and Susan’s story and those of the women in uniform convinced me to be more thankful for the people in my life.”

“One thing that really hit me was when they said, ‘If you wait for your fear to subside you will never accomplish what you set out to accomplish.’  It made me think of all the times I let fear get the best of me.  These women got on a plane to New York, not know what they were getting themselves into, but they took the chance.  They didn’t let fear stop them, and it is amazing to see the outcome.”

“I loved the powerpoint.  The choice of music was amazing; they did a spectacular job of picking songs that would evoke great emotion from the audience.  As I glanced around the room, it was impossible to find a dry eye.  I think what these two women did took a lot of courage, and it helped me realize what can be accomplished if one is persistent.”

“The authors were very gifted in keeping the audience in the moment.  They mixed humor with touching stories, which was the perfect combination to engage a diverse group of people.  The icing on the cake was seeing the movie and hearing the stories of the women when they went to California for a week.  The authors did an excellent job of communicating the stories of the Women at Ground Zero.”

“The presentation had a profound affect on me.  Mary and Susan presented the events of September 11 in a totally new and different light.  I realized that when it comes down to it, nothing matters more than giving of oneself to help others.  All of the people who acted so selflessly on 9/11 really reinforced my desire to help others.”

“Susan and Mary helped me see that if you are moving toward a goal for the right reasons, everything will line up to make that goal happen.  It was a great confirmation for me.”

“What Mary and Susan did to help the women of 9/11 was breathtaking and remarkable.  It was an outstanding presentation and is something I would go see again.  I was so inspired by the authors, I even bought a book for my mother.”

“I greatly enjoyed last night’s presentation.  It was humorous at times (one could definitely tell that Mary has done stand-up!), but it was also extremely moving and powerful.  There were times when the room was so quiet that it was almost eerie.  By I learned a lot about heroes of 9/11 and a lot about myself.”

“I used to think that as only one person, I couldn’t make a difference.  But after listening to the presentation, I realized how far that is from the truth.  Susan and Mary were two people who wanted to make a difference and they did.  They really showed that when you set your mind to something, it can be done.”

“I am so thankful for people like Mary and Susan who not only want to help others, but actually take action and do so.  I always feel the need to help, but then get stuck and don’t have the resources or courage to do so.  Susan and Mary showed me how to make the decision to act.”

“I wish I had the passion Mary and Susan had, to do something that good with my life.  I think my journey will now be similar to Mary and Susan, because now I know it’s possible.”

“The speakers risked everything to follow their dream and do what they thought was right.  Unlike most people, they acted on what they were being nudged to do.  Most people would come up with reasons why they couldn’t do it.  It was a great presentation, powerful and inspiring.”

“This was one of the best talks I have ever been to!  I learned a lot about myself.”