Friday, September 14, 2018

Speaker tells story of how minor ailment saves him from the tragedy of 9/11 by Lorraine Glowczak

Donato Tramuto
September 11, 2001 is a date that will never be forgotten by those who witnessed and experienced the tragedies that occurred in New York, Washington D.C. and Pennsylvania. Much like any unforgettable catastrophe, everyone remembers that day with clarity. There are also many stories of near misses - seemingly insignificant events – that resulted in a life saved. For some, it was oversleeping and arriving late to their office on the 105th floor, for others it was missing the subway bound for the Trade Center, and yet for others it was an error in flight scheduling.

For Donato Tramuto it was a toothache.

Tramuto, the CEO of Tivity Health, Inc., told his story and explained the purpose for establishing the Tramuto Foundation to a crowd of students, faculty and eight non-profit partners (2018 Tramuto Foundation recipients) at the Stone House on the St. Joseph’s College Campus for a breakfast and commemorative event on Tuesday, September 11 from 8 9:30 a.m.

The morning began with a welcome and opening prayers by President James Dlugos, who has worked closely with Tramuto on other projects over the past three years.

The purpose of the event was to not only gather and commemorate the tragic losses of the terrorist attacks but to recognize the grant recipients of the Tramuto Foundation. A foundation established in memory of two close friends of Tramuto and their son who lost their lives aboard flight 175 on September 11th. The foundation provides scholarships to underprivileged students, as well as providing grants to organizations whose mission it is to better the lives of others.

Two Maine organizations, Saint Joseph’s College and the Good Shepherd Food Bank are this year’s recipients as well as Boston University School of Public Health, Thomas Jefferson University – Jefferson College School of Population Health, Robert F. Kennedy Children’s Action Corps, Robert F. Kennedy Human Rights, Health eVillages and Lwala Community Alliance.

After his introduction by Dlugos, Tramuto told an attentive and quiet audience that he was scheduled to be on United Flight 175 from Boston to Los Angeles, a weekly flight he often took from his home in Ogunquit to California where he was busy creating a healthcare company. weekend prior to the tragedy, he and his partner Jeff were the host to two close friends from California and their three-year-old son. “It was the most beautiful September sunny weekend,” he recalled. “We laughed, we ate, and we enjoyed watching three-year old David as he played and explored, begging ‘just five more minutes’ so he could capture more time before he went to bed. At the end of the day, while sitting on the patio, I raised a glass to toast the perfect weekend. I said, ‘It will never be as great as it is right now,’” After choking back tears he continued, “I will never be able to use those words to toast again.”

Tramuto was scheduled to fly back with his friends and their son on that fateful day, but a toothache caused him to change flight plans so he could visit his dentist in Boston. His friends and their son continued their flight to L.A. as planned. It was the plane that hit the South Tower at 9:03 a.m.

As with many whose lives were spared during this devastating tragedy, Tramuto explained the depth of his anger and guilt he felt during this time. To funnel the intense emotions, he decided to create a living tribute in his friends’ memories, creating the Tramuto Foundation to show there is still good that exists in the world.

When asked what advice he might have for others who face such misfortune and heartbreak, Trumato offered two pieces of guidance. He stated that adversity and challenge can create an opportunity for understanding and compassion. “Do you want to remain bitter and hateful?” he stated. “Evil and hatred does not solve anything. Instead, use the experience for good.”

He stated that by choosing to take the road towards compassion, it changed his life. “I feel like I’m living my calling now. It’s not about my career or material things – it is about compassion toward others. I’ve done more in the past 17 years than I did the first 45 years of my life.”

The last piece of advice he offered is something he stated all great leaders of our time have done at least once in their lives. “Search right down to the core of your being,” Trumato stated. “Find out who you are and what you will do with that.”

He also shared his concern regarding the present political divide. “My biggest fear is 10 years from now, the country will be in a more challenging place,” he reflected “We lack compassion and unity for one another, which was the common denominator during the early days after the attack.”

Dlugos added to Trumato’s sentiments. “I call it ‘radical hospitality’ which goes beyond being tolerant of others,” he began. “If we can stop and take the time to get to know other people and be sensitive to their stories, it will help us to act in a more civil manner. It’s really hard to be uncivil to someone you know.”

Trumato added to his own statement, “Have we lost the lesson from 9/11?”

Following the breakfast and commemorative event, the 2018 foundation recipients transitioned into a private meeting to plan a 2021 20th Commemorative Anniversary Gala foundation fundraiser.

For more information about the Trumato Foundation, visit

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