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Coming Together to Remember

Coming Together to Remember

National Stair Climb unites a diverse group in commemorating fallen firefighters

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Anyone can join the National Stair Climb for Fallen Firefighters presented by United Technologies, Saturday, October 10.
• $40 fee and everyone receives a name badge of a firefighter who died in the line of duty and T-shirt.
• Check-in begins at 7:30 am at Citi Field. Opening ceremonies begin at 8:40 am.
Can’t be in New York? Join in the virtual climb! Learn more at
• Benefits the FDNY Counseling Services Unit (CSU) and National Fallen Firefighters Foundation (NFFF).

They come from as far as Florida, North Carolina and Colorado. Some are old hands at doing stair climbs, while others will ascend the steps for the first time. And they all have different reasons for climbing. But on October 10, hundreds of people will be united in one goal: Climb 110 flights of stairs to honor firefighters who gave the ultimate sacrifice.

“I was a freshman in college on 9/11 and I watched the towers fall,” says John Dowd, who will travel from Florida to participate in the National Stair Climb in New York City on October 10. At the time, his father had been a firefighter in Massachusetts for 20 years. “I knew I wouldn’t make it to my sophomore year. I left for basic [training] in June and served in Iraq and Afghanistan.” Leaving the military 11 years later, Dowd became a firefighter in Florida. “Every year cities across the country do 9/11 stair climbs and I wanted to be part of [the national] stair climb,” he says. “I wanted to help memorialize every fallen brother.”

The National Stair Climb is unique because it commemorates all firefighters who have died in the line of duty. Although there is no minimum fundraising requirement, many registrants pledge to raise more than the $40 registration fee. Proceeds will benefit the National Fallen Firefighters Foundation (NFFF) and the FDNY Counseling Services Unit.

“I have never done a stair climb before, but have always wanted to,” says Mike Coffey, a Tarrytown (N.Y.) firefighter who was one of the early registrants. Coffey will climb in memory of Firefighter John Kelly, who died during a technical rescue incident on September 6, 2010. “This year is five years from that horrific day, and I wanted to do something positive to commemorate it,” Coffey says. “The NFFF does great deeds all the time, so raising money for it as well as FDNY counseling services seemed like the right thing to do.”

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The National Stair Climb is open to the public and to all ages, and the NFFF encourages anyone interested to register. Mark Leddy, an Annapolis, Md., resident, is one of the non-firefighter participants. Having grown up on Long Island and Queens, he immediately felt the call to register. “I believed, as a New Yorker and as an American, it was my duty to do something to help the families and to honor those who gave of themselves without asking, ‘What is in it for me?’” Leddy says.

Presented by United Technologies, the National Stair Climb will be held Saturday, October 10, at Citi Field. The cost is $40 before the event and $50 on site if space is available. Participants receive a name badge honoring or in memory of the firefighter they’re climbing for.

Gina Carter, an EMT and a paramedic student, is climbing in memory of Kevin Apuzzio, who died while rescuing a victim from a house fire. “Kevin is a role model and true hero who gave the ultimate sacrifice attempting to save the life of another,” she says. “It is my honor to walk for him in this year’s stair climb.”

Recognizing that some people may hesitate to commit to this physically strenuous event, Carter says, “Just go for it! It is a powerful experience and for those involved in emergency services, it’s an opportunity to strengthen the sister and brotherhood.” Also available is a Virtual Climber option, for those unable to attend the event but who are interested in supporting the NFFF and FDNY.

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The National Stair Climb for Fallen Firefighters is made possible through the generosity of the Presenting Sponsor, United Technologies, and Event Sponsors, Kidde Fire Safety, New York City Fire Department (FDNY), QALO, Motorola Solutions, Fire News, Scott Safety, PennWell and American Water Resources.