Today, Willie and I climbed another 110 stories for the 343 brothers who were murdered on September 11, 2001. I wrote about our first climb here that we did at Firehouse Expo in Baltimore. Every firefighter should commit to at least one 9/11 Memorial Stair Climb event.
I am sure that Willie will be posting something at IronFiremen.com soon enough.
This climb was different. It was in a different City, a different building, different layout, I had done one before, and it I had a different focus.
Willie and I climbed again. Why, you might ask? Simply because we could, we wanted to, and we owe it to our brothers.
The climb in Atlanta was 10 times harder than the one in Baltimore. Baltimore was 22 stories 5 times. Atlanta was a straight 73 stories, and then another 45. I know it doesn’t add up to 110, but somehow they had it worked out to that. Somewhere in that equation it equalled 110 and I didn’t question it. The only break that we had climbing was the stop at the 73rd floor and the ride down the elevator to begin again. We had 4 of those breaks in Baltimore.
We ended up being in the first team to climb today. Willie and I climbed with Fire Chief Chris Riley, Chief Matt Tobia, Chief Martha Ellis, Cheryl Horvath, and Chief Mark Nugent. Sorry for any spelling or rank mistakes. Willie and I were the only ones in turnout gear in our group.
The second set of steps that we climbed to the 45th floor it was me and Willie. The others went on without us. They wanted to move quicker than we could move in our turnout gear. We accepted it. It gave Willie and I time to reflect without anyone within floors of us. Just us…climbing…for the 343. The quiet was only broke by the sound of Willie offering support in keeping me going. His encouragement which I desperately needed. It was tough. Willie wanted to make sure I was alright. Like any great Company Officer he was looking out for me. It was just us climbing, and we were able to pay our respects in our way without any distractions.
I could not have completed the climb without my brother and partner Willie. This climb was one of the most difficult things I have ever done in my life. As hard as I thought the climb was in Baltimore, this one was harder.
We completed the climb. We completed the climb for the 343 again like we did in Baltimore and we did it again as a personal accomplishment.
Just like in Baltimore, I hit every step on the way up.
As a matter of fact, I had to stop twice to go back a couple of steps to hit one I had skipped.
I have to thank the Westin Peachtree Plaza, Atlanta Fire Department, the NFFF, and the IAFC for putting on the event and allowing me to pay my respects to the 343.
If you EVER have the chance to climb in a 9/11 Memorial Stair Climb I CHALLENGE you to do it. Do it for yourself, do it for the brotherhood, do it for the 343.