March 2, 2003 - As a child, Todd Ouida suffered from panic attacks that
eventually led to 2½ years of intensive psychotherapy - therapy
that saved his life, according to his father, Herbert.
It was something Todd Ouida never really talked much
about with his parents, but it was something his therapist related to
the crowd that gathered for his memorial service last year.
"People came up to us after the service and said,
'You should create something in Todd's name, in the area that [the doctor]
spoke about,'" recalled Herbert Ouida, whose son perished at age
25 in the World Trade Center on Sept. 11, 2001.
So Herbert and Andrea Ouida of River Edge created
the Todd Ouida Children's Foundation, which recently donated $250,000
to the medical school at Todd's alma mater, the University of Michigan.
The endowment will help to further research and treatment
for - as well as raise awareness of - childhood anxiety disorders.
Meanwhile, the interest on the gift will be used
to endow the annual Lecture in Childhood Anxiety and Depression, said
Gregory Hanna, an associate professor and director of the Division of
Child and Adolescent Psychiatry at the university. Herbert Ouida said
the lecture series will begin in the fall, and Hanna said the Ouidas
will be present.
"It's great to have him involved in this way,"
Hanna said of Herbert Ouida. "I think he has taken it as a personal
It's a cause the Ouidas have taken up to help Todd's
spirit live on and foster hope in spite of tragedy.
"We're working hard in this area because we
really believe that the answer to what happened on Sept. 11th has to
be not only a military answer," Herbert Ouida said, "but there
has to be something that you're trying to build that's positive as well."
Herbert Ouida, who was at work in the offices of
the World Trade Centers Association on the 77th floor of Tower One the
day of the attacks, escaped safely. His son, who worked as a currency
trader at Cantor Fitzgerald on the tower's 105th floor, did not.
His mother last heard from him when he called her
shortly after the plane hit and said he was on the way to the stairs.
To keep Todd's name alive, Herbert Ouida retired
in December to devote himself to the foundation, a fund to support psychological
services for children. A Web site - www.mybuddytodd.org - was created.
The Ouidas also held a birthday party for him May
18, at which stories about Todd were shared and funds were raised. Another
is planned for the spring.
"We wanted something permanent in his name,"
Herbert Ouida said of the endowment. "Because I'll tell you something:
All of us suffer. I'm in a therapy group on Monday nights. All of us
suffer from the same thing to a great extent, and that is that we don't
want our loved ones forgotten."
The gift to Michigan primarily comprised money from
Todd Ouida's estate; in addition, the Ouidas have raised more than $100,000,
including $40,000 at the 2002 birthday celebration.
Théoden K. Janes' e-mail address is email@example.com