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Rise of Freedom: Connecticut Teen Leaves His Mark on 9/11 Memorial

NEWTOWN, Conn.-- The defining landmark of Newtown, Conn., is a historic 10-story flag pole, planted in the middle of an intersection in the heart of town. In a community where patriotism conquers basic traffic safety, perhaps it's no surprise that the folks here would rally behind an effort to raise money for the 9/11 Memorial.

Especially when they're only being asked for their pennies.

"Pennies are the little things that count," said Patrick Briscoe, 13, who started a campaign to sponsor a cobblestone on the 9/11 Memorial Plaza. He says a report last October about an anonymous $10,000 donation to the Memorial inspired him to raise 10,000 pennies.

Though he was very young during the attacks of September 11, Patrick has a special connection to the World Trade Center.

"Both my parents worked there and met there, and I wouldn't be here without them," he explained. His grandfather also worked there during the 1993 bombing.

"A lot of people from this area lost loved ones down there," added Patrick's father, Pat. "There isn't anyone in this area who doesn't have some connection with the Trade Center."

Many of those people found the decorated coffee tins that Briscoe set up across town. His goal was to collect $100 -- enough to dedicate a small brick at the 9/11 Memorial plaza on behalf of Newtown.

The response surpassed all expectations. A number of people donated dollars or entire jars of coins, pushing the total amount Briscoe raised to more than $1,000. That will allow him to dedicate a larger stone on the plaza.

"It's just been overwhelming. Very positive," said Liz Briscoe, Patrick's mother. "My husband and I always teach our kids to be good and do good, and this is the perfect example of doing something good."

Representatives of the 9/11 Memorial say cobblestones can be dedicated to anyone. Although they won't be engraved or marked, donors will be able to find their stones on a kiosk or on the memorial's website.

"When you sponsor a cobblestone at the 9/11 Memorial, you're helping to build a lasting national tribute of honor to the 9/11 victims and heroes," said 9/11 Memorial communications director Michael Frazier. "The memorial at the World Trade Center site opens in September, and its plaza will be lined with these cobblestones that are truly meaningful gifts."

Frazier encourages those interested in sponsoring a cobblestone to visit 911memorial.org or call (212) 312-8800 for more information.

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