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Rise of Freedom

Rise of Freedom: Showing Signs of Support

New York sneaker salesman Gary Muhrcke looks at a sticker he put in the front window of his "Super Runners Shop" in Times Square.

"It says 'We support the 9/11 Memorial... Forever changed, forever connected,'" he reads. "We were there and we're not gonna forget about it."

Muhrcke had a shoe store in the concourse beneath the World Trade Center. It was destroyed on September 11, 2001.

"We had just opened the shop. It was only about five months old," Muhrcke recalls. "The store was just totally obliterated."

Muhrcke lost his $500,000 investment and about 3,000 pairs of sneakers, but all of his employees made it out alive. Three of them still work for him today.

Muhrcke's business has since bounced back. He now has ten Super Runners Shops across New York and Long Island and is helping to rebuild the World Trade Center by donating to the 9/11 Memorial's "Signs of Support" program.

"We're asking for a very small donation from each of the businesses that want to participate," 9/11 Memorial President Joe Daniels says. "In return, we give them a nice decal that they can put right on their front door as their customers walk in. It simply says we support the 9/11 memorial."

To get a sticker, businesses can choose from different donation packages, which include sponsoring a cobblestone that will be placed at the memorial. The packages range from $100 to $1,500. So far, the grassroots fundraising program has raised $80,000. All of the money will be used to build the 9/11 Memorial which will be open to the public in less than six months.

"We expect 5 million people to come to the memorial after we open this September," Daniels says. "We're going to tell our visitors when they come down here, go frequent the businesses that are supporting the memorial, whether it's hotels, restaurants, bars, delis. If they're supporting the memorial, we are certainly going to encourage them to go visit those businesses themselves.”

Right now, about 150 businesses are taking part in “Signs of Support,” from big chains like AT&T and 7-Eleven to small mom-and-pop run restaurants and bars.

Daniels, who lives in Lower Manhattan, says he created the program in an effort to involve businesses in the building of the memorial, much like they were involved in recovering from the terror attacks.

"I can remember after 9/11 going in to bars and restaurants and delis and they were filled with stickers of support, patches from construction workers, from first responders. It gave me the sense that the community of businesses was involved in what happened," Daniels says. "Now that we are in the process of opening the memorial we wanted to give them the chance to get involved again."

Most of the businesses taking part in the Signs of Support program are in the New York area. But decals are starting to pop up in other parts of the country.

"9/11 didn't happen to New York, it happened to the U.S.," Wayne Piazza, manager at the Lakewood Ranch and Country Club in Bradenton, Florida, says. "I guess that's why we did it." Lakewood Ranch holds a bridal expo every September. Last year, they took up a collection at the door which was donated to the 9/11 Memorial. Lakewood already has its sticker up, but it's going to donate again this year.

"We think it's great and we'll continue to contribute to it for as long as we can," Piazza says.

Customers chipped in part of the donation Alan Yamamoto made on behalf of his "No Bull Saloon" near Seattle in Renton, Washington. "I actually had a donation jar out on the bar and some posters saying if you'd like to donate to the 9/11 memorial, please do so. The bar was going to donate anyway, so we went ahead and did that."

Yamamoto decided to participate in "Signs of Support" after researching 9/11 charities online. He was looking for a way to honor his customers' connection to Ground Zero. Many of them work for Boeing, which is headquartered in Seattle. "Boeing employees know that there were Boeing airplanes involved in the 9/11 incidents," Yamamoto says, "I thought this would be a good way to recognize 9/11 and donate."

Yamamoto put up his Sign of Support last Memorial Day.

Tune in to The Fox Report with Shepard Smith, tonight at 7 p.m. EDT for a full report on how the Signs of Support are helping to build the 9/11 Memorial and Museum. It is the latest installment of "The Rise of Freedom", a special series about the rebuilding of the World Trade Center. You can catch up on all our segments by going to www.foxnews.com/freedom. To participate in the Signs of Support, go to the official website www.national911memorial.org.

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