The thought of climbing 110 stories may seem impossible to some, but it’s not. You can do it.
The 9/11 Memorial Stair Climb events by the National Fallen Firefighter Foundation are popping up all across the country. They are gaining in popularity, and filling up quickly.
In just 18 minutes, all 343 climbers signed up to carry each of our fallen brothers to the top.
Every climb is different and provides unique challenges. Some of the buildings are taller than others, which means it only takes a few more elevator rides to the bottom and trips to the top to complete the goal. Typically the buildings range from 20-50 stories tall, but in the end…it is 110 stories.
I have completed five 9/11 Memorial Stair Climb’s to date, and don’t have plans of stopping anytime soon. My personal fitness level has varied throughout the different climbs, but I have not let that stop me. I have climbed in gym clothes, turnout gear, and turnout gear with an air pack. It’s not about being the fastest or being the best, it is about remembering our brothers who were killed on September 11th.
My first climb was in Richmond, Virginia on the September 11th weekend in 2011. I was in town for the NASCAR race, and drove to the SunTrust Building to complete the climb after a weekend of late nights at the track. I was not in very good shape at the time, and it took a toll on my body. I didn’t stop. I kept climbing until I had reached the top to ring the bell in memory of my fallen brother. I have kept climbing ever since. You can read about the climb by clicking here.
The second climb was in April of 2012 at FDIC in Indianapolis. I climbed with several of my friends, and met new ones during the climb. Rhett Fleitz (FireCritic.com), Willie Wines (IronFiremen.com), Jared Lindholm (Kingsport Fire), and Brian Brush (FireServiceWarrior.com) were a few of the brothers that I climbed with. They helped me get to the top, and I’d like to think I helped them.
The third climb was in Nashville, TN on September 8th, 2012. With the Nashville Climb gaining in popularity, I was lucky enough to have one of my brother’s get a team registered in time before it filled up. I climbed with Team 15A with Marty Hudlow and Kurt Bennett of neighboring Johnson City Fire, Jared Lindholm (Kingsport Fire), Jeff Crawford (Nashville Fire), and John Hodosi. It was once again a difficult climb, even though I was probably most prepared for this climb compared to the others. It not only is physically demanding, but it takes a toll mentally as well. As you are confined in the stair wells of the building, you cannot help but to think about what our brothers from FDNY were thinking on the day the towers fell. Click here to read about the climb.
Since the DNC was in Charlotte on that weekend, the 2nd Annual Charlotte 9/11 Memorial Stair Climb was moved to October. Several of the guy from work had climbed in Charlotte before, and were glad that it had to be moved. This gave us the opportunity to climb once again. We traveled down for the climb in Charlotte, and they had a great set-up there. Our families were able to watch the climb on a big screen on the street. This climb was a very special one for me because my parents were able to travel down to help support me. For this climb, Jared Lindholm, Jason Bledsoe, and myself from Kingsport Fire teamed up with Lance Bellamy, Austin Simpson, and Candice Roark from Sullivan County Fire, and Jay Roseman from Warriors Path Fire. We had several first time climbers on our team, but we kept each other going. It was during this climb that I met several FDNY firefighters that I now call friends. Click here to read about the climb.
This past April, we climbed again. While at FDIC, we found time to pay tribute to our fallen brothers and climbed with several hundred firefighters in the Lucas Oil Stadium. While we were somewhat spread out, I climbed along with Jared Lindholm (Kingsport Fire), Rhett Fleitz (FireCritic.com), Paul Hasenmeier (FirstDueTackle.com), Michael Smith (BoronExtrication.com), Brent Bronner (Perkins Twp Fire), and Brian Brush (West Metro). Click here to read about the climb.
We are planning to climb this September in Charlotte, NC. We had a great time there last year, and look forward to great memories again this year.
I’d like to challenge each and every one of my readers to find an event near you and climb. Come to Charlotte and climb with us. I will stick with you each and every step to be sure that we finish together. I have let my weight creep back up, and my cardio slack off. It changes today as I hit the gym at work and start to prepare for the climb. Hit your gym today. Go for a jog. Get off the couch and climb! If I can do it, there isn’t anyone out there that can’t. If you aren’t in the best of shape, climb in your gym clothes. It’s not a race. Complete the climb, and set goals for next year to add turnouts.
Ask your coworkers, family, and friends for support. Typically, these are our support groups who help us accomplish our goals. Ask them to make the climb with you. Invite them to travel to the event with you. The event at Charlotte has always had activities for the entire family. Last year, they had inflatables for the kids, a post-climb bar crawl, and several other events for the family.
If you have any questions, I’d be glad to answer them or find the answer for you. I’ll be posting updates and more information on the climbs in the future.
You can click here to find a 9/11 Memorial Stair Climb near you. All it takes is the click of a button and a $25 donation to the National Fallen Firefighter Foundation.