While I have had a great week in the Chicago area with the crew, I can definitely say that it is going by too fast. We spent the majority of Tuesday at the Brookfield Zoo, and travelled into Chicago for the night. Our hotel is nearly a mile from Wrigley Park, so we were able to walk there for a game on Wednesday. The game wasn’t much of a game since Chicago didn’t even score a run…but we had a blast. During the inning changes, one of the coaches even threw Issac a baseball! I mean, not that I can blame him. Who could say NO to an adorable face like his?
This morning, we woke up early and headed downtown. I had spoke with Billy Hinton from the NFFF several times, and I was able to meet up with him at the Sheraton. I spoke with them about the campaign we had run online, and they were appreciative of the difference we made! With the support of The Fire Critic and several of our followers sharing the posts, we were able to have 17 PEOPLE sign-up for the 9/11 Memorial Stair Climb! MN8 Foxfire also made a $100 donation to the NFFF since they were unable to attend the climb.
I collected the 17 badges for the fallen firefighters from the 343, and I have assigned them to the ones who registered as follows:
ME: Tarel Coleman, Squad 252
Bryan Sypniewski: James Raymond Coyle, Ladder 3
Rhett Fleitz: Firefighter Terence Augustine McShane, Ladder 101
Steven Burke: Dennis M. Carey Sr., Haz-Mat 1
Will Sergent: Brian Cannizzaro, Ladder 101
Melody Sergent: Firefighter Dennis M. Mulligan, Ladder 2
Zach Coulombe: Robert Curatolo, Ladder 16
Andrew Young: Lieutenant Raymond E. Murphy, Ladder 16
Shiloh MacCabe: Robert B. Nagel, Engine 58
Tim Davies: Lieutenant William E. McGinn, Squad 18
Greg Collins: Firefighter Robert William McPadden, Engine 23
Tim Ladd Jr.: Firefighter John Kevin McAvoy, Ladder 3
Jennifer Williams: Thomas Patrick Cullen III, Squad 41
Danielle Celii: Firefighter Dismas McMahon, Ladder 20
Terry Arnold: Dennis A. Cross, Battalion 57
Bob Gard: Peter J. Carroll, Squad 1
Tom Bauer: Firefighter Thomas A. Casoria, Engine 22
During the opening ceremony, the President of the IAFC, Chief Hank Clemmensen, spoke a few words to thank all the members of the fire service for attending the climb. He also asked that all attending the event remember the true reason that we are climbing the 110 floors, and how we should always remember our brothers and sister who were lost that day. Due to only about 50 climbers signed-up, the event was probably the most “informal” stair climb that I have attended. I don’t mean this in a bad way because I actually enjoyed being able to climb at my own pace. I found myself alone and in silence many times during the climb. I could hear myself taking steps in the quiet stairwell, and the labored breathing as I climbed to the next floor.
While I have not been training as I should have, the motivation boost came from those names listed above of the ones who registered with no intention of attending. It’s not about me, the website, or the ones who registered…it is about the 343. We need to take every opportunity to always remember all of our fallen brothers, and be sure that we take every chance possible to support the National Fallen Firefighter Foundation.
The climb consisted of 3 trips from the lobby to the 34th floor, and one addition trip up to the 20th floor. I did run into Dave Statter of Statter911.com, and spoke with a few members of the media following the climb. After the first 3 trips, Issac decided he wanted to finish the climb with me.
Talk about a trooper, this little guy climbed every single step up to the 10th floor!
I helped him out for a few floors and we finished the climb together at the 20th floor! We both kneeled down and announced each of the firefighters names and riding assignments. A weight felt lifted off my shoulders as we both came up to a standing position and spoke with a few reporters. Issac may not understand at 2 years old…but I am confident that I will be sure that he understands as he grows older.
Thanks again to all who registered for the climb and to MN8 Foxfire for their donation! I have collected all of the t-shirts of those who signed up, and I will send those out in a couple of weeks. Also, I will include the tag of the firefighter whom I carried to the top for you!
Tomorrow the FRI 2013 Exhibits open, and we hope to enjoy ourselves browsing through the booths. I have a few friends that I am looking forward to meeting with, and hopefully will make new ones as well. I will touch back the first of the week after get settled back into town.