Everyday Heroes

9/11 Volunteers Spend 25th Wedding Anniversary In Hospital

While volunteers are working to finish renovating their dream home, Nick Ursta is fighting to stay alive.


Nick Ursta is in a bed at Jefferson Hospital, outside of Pittsburgh, his wife, Margaret, by his side. It's their 25th wedding anniversary, and both of them know it might be their last. Nick is battling mesothelioma. The cancer in his lungs was caused by exposure to asbestos when he and Margaret, both medics, volunteered at Ground Zero after 9/11.

They -- and we -- would rather the Urstas be fighting this battle in the comfort of their home in the suburb of McKeesport. Nick bought the house, intending to turn it into his wife's dream home. After he was diagnosed and too sick to do the renovations, he turned to me, and we recruited an army of volunteers, craftsmen and women, to do the work. They're almost finished, just as Nick fights the toughest part of his battle to keep on living.

Here is our conversation when I went to visit them at the hospital:

Nick is determined to be well enough to get into the home we've been helping complete with the generosity of strangers. Strangers who've opened their wallets and hearts, who said "yes" even though they don't know the Urstas. We're now on the final touches. Robert Levin of Levin Furniture is taking care of furnishings for the home and Pat Molyneaux's crews from Molyneaux Tile, Carpet and Wood are covering the floors.

Just this past weekend Dan Horhut and his crew from Horthut Tree Experts cleaned up the piles and piles of debris from the trees and shrubbery that was removed from the yard around the Usta home just outside McKeesport, PA.

Maury Burgwin, President of the Mon Yough Area Chamber of Commerce sent us this video of the cleanup.

Special thanks to:

  • TUDI Mechanical Systems: They installed a brand new furnace and donated the entire system as part of their Heat For The Needy program.
  • Kevin Anglum and Tony Napolitano: These retired contractors have done the walls and ceilings drywall and sheet rock with additional volunteer assistance from the Carpenters and Joiners Union .
  • Maury Burgwin, President of the Mon Yough Area Chamber of Commerce : Burgwin is working with area businesses on materials and labor.
  • Anonymous: A mystery man paid for the roofing job installed by Nicolella Roofing .
  • Matt Mertz Plumbing : They have done a complete job of running all of the plumbing and making sure it's all up to code. It took a week of work and they didn't ask for a penny.
  • Michael Jacobs, President and Owner of Marvista Kitchen and Bath . Jacobs' team is working on the dream kitchen and bathrooms for Nick and Margaret.
  • 84 Lumber has donated the siding and materials to finish the exterior of the Ursta home.
  • Richard Garland and his volunteers from The Blessing Board are taking care of the labor, installing siding on all sides of the Ursta home.

Our apologies if we're missing anyone, but you get the picture of the small army that's coming together to help the Ursta's get their dream home finished. We're going to make sure that it gets done as Nick continues to fight the good fight with his cancer.

Follow the Ursta's Journey on Sparkt:

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