September 20, 2001

Carrying On

Devastated families gain comfort by honoring their courageous loved ones

Thomas Foley, 32

One of PEOPLE's Most Eligible Bachelors, he gave his heart to firefighting

He loved motorcycles and bull-riding. "Anything that gives you a test here on earth, that makes you feel alive," Thomas Foley told PEOPLE when he appeared in our inaugural issue of eligible bachelors in July 2000. Though his looks led to stints as an extra on Third Watch and The Sopranos, the country music fan and power-lifting champ from Nyack, N.Y., had no intention of abandoning the career he'd dreamed of since he was 13. "It's the best job in the world," he said. "I wouldn't trade it for anything."

Foley's shift at his Bronx stationhouse ended at 9 a.m. on Sept. 11, but when the call came, he put his boots back on and headed south. The unflinching response was typical of Foley: Last year Mayor Giuliani presented him with a medal for saving a man from a burning building; he was also honored for his daring rescue of two construction workers when a scaffold collapsed in 1999. After that incident Foley called his mom to say he was safe. A week after the World Trade tragedy, his family was still waiting and praying. Says his sister Joanne, 34: "We're trying to do what Tom would want us to do."