In a little less then 10 days, I will start my third 9/11 Stair Climb. I have walked away from each stair climb with a mix of emotions, and trust me…each one has been very emotional for me. The first climb, I donned by turnout gear and helmet and climbed in Richmond, VA, with around 200 other firefighters. I had been in Richmond with some friends at the NASCAR race, and I did not know one other firefighter there. It didn’t matter though, because I made some friends and we were all there for the same reason: to honor those who passed on 9/11. At that climb, I carried the names of Firefighter Michael J. Clarke, FDNY Ladder 2; Firefighter Peter J. Carroll, FDNY Squad 1; and Captain Earl Morphew, CFD. As I have talked about in my previous posts, Capt. Morphew was a great instructor and friend who was killed in a motor vehicle accident in 2009. I did not have the pleasure to meet Firefighter Clarke or Firefighter Carroll, but after returning from the climb, I researched and learned about each of them.
At FDIC, I decided to take a different approach and climb in my gym clothes and fire helmet. These climbs are not races, and I didn’t have to prove anything by having to put all my gear on to climb. This was a climb I did along side one of my brothers from KFD, Jared Lindholm, Rhett Fleitz, The Fire Critic, and Cpt. Willie Wines, of The Iron Firemen. I also did this climb with about 200 other firefighters from departments all across the United States. It was also a very emotional climb for me. I wore the names/photos of the firemen listed above from my Richmond climb, and I added the names/photos of Firefighter Thomas J. Kuveikis, FDNY Squad 252; Lieutenant Edward A. D’Atri, FDNY Squad 1; and Firefighter Joseph Angelini, Jr., FDNY Ladder 4. I once again researched and learned about each of the guys and their families they left behind.
The upcoming climb in Nashville is going to be different in many ways. This climb filled all 343 spots in just a few hours, and will be the first climb I have participated in that has filled up. It amazes me that the climbs across the US are having problems filling up. I can’t grasp why a fundraiser like this can’t get 343 firefighters in the area that are wanting to remember those who passed and promote firefighter fitness. I hope to see the day that each and every climb put on by the National Fallen Firefighters Foundation will fill up. The cost is only $25, which all goes to the foundation for the families of the fallen. Another thing that is going to be different about this climb is that I will be climbing in full turnout gear w/ SCBA. This will add an additional 20lbs to my gear; however, I feel that I have done everything possible to be ready for it physically. I have been on the stepper in the gym 7 days a week since the first of August. I am nervous, but not afraid. I know that this is what the responders when through, and they didn’t have a choice.
It’s Go Time! During the next 8 days, I will be pushing myself harder then ever to be prepared. I will be climbing with two other firefighters from KFD, and we will be in a team of 7. I look forward to meeting the other team members and experiencing this with them. I believe we are also going to be riding along with NFD Engine 12 while we are visiting. I will keep everyone posted on that as well.
Thanks for reading and feel free to comment.