This weekend, I attended the 4th Annual Charlotte Firefighter’s 9/11 Memorial Stair Climb in Charlotte, NC. I made the trip down two days before the actual climb since they held the Inaugural Fire Service Training Day on Friday, September 12th. I wrote about some of the speakers and classes I was able to attend in an article here (link). While this was the 4th annual climb in Charlotte, it was the 3rd time that I had attended the event. Each year, the event seems to grow in attendance. This is due to the information being dispersed and due to the hard work of the committee that plans the event. They literally leave no stones unturned when planning this event. Some of the key elements that stand out to me are the inflatables for the children, the pup crawl after the climb, and the giant screen that shows the climb from within the stairwells.
As each climb is always a challenge, we must remember that the challenge we face by climbing 110 floors to the top is nothing compared to the challenge that all of the responders faced on that day 13 years ago. The radio traffic from FDNY was broadcast throughout the stairwell around the 30th floor, which is about the time that I would be reaching my threshold. The sounds from the speaker would push me forward and help me gain motivation to continue climbing. While some of the climb seems to be quite due to the individuals reflecting the past, the stairwell would also echo with words of encouragement to be sure that everyone made it to the top.
The task of climbing the 110 floors is not an easy one, especially while some individuals carried tools and hosepacks throughout the climb. As we were climbing, there was an individual that we came up on that was physically exhausted and stated he could not continue the climb. I witnessed several individuals place his arm around their neck and continue climbing. Nearly 10 floors later, I glanced back to offer him a bottle of water, and now a brother police officer had his arm around him helping him climb on. There were many other examples of brotherhood that were witnessed throughout the Duke Energy Building that day as well. I saw several young children climbing with their fathers, knowing that even though they weren’t living on 09-11-01 that their parents were giving them the opportunity to learn about all the sacrifices that were made.
This year, I climbed with Shane Lester, a firefighter from Springdale Fire Department, and we made sure to finish together. I was able to catch up with several others that I have met online or at the previous climbs. The brothers in North Carolina are ones that understand the entire picture. They do it for the right reasons, and share their passion with others. It was a pleasure to climb with everyone that attended the event, and I can’t wait to see what next year has to offer. The event dates for 2015 have already been announced, and I hope to see many of you there! September 11th, 2015: 2nd Annual Fire Service Training Day; September 12th, 2015: 5th Annual Charlotte Firefighter’s 9/11 Memorial Stair Climb.
At the time of publishing, the exact total amount of money raised for the National Fallen Firefighter’s Foundation was unknown, but they were looking to break last year’s record of $40,000. Attached are a few photos and media links for the event: