As Americans reflect on the 20th anniversary of the 9/11 attacks this year, nearly 50 cities across the U.S. will pay tribute to the New York Firefighters killed at the World Trade Center. They will do so by symbolically retracing their heroic steps in the National Fallen Firefighters Foundation’s 9/11 Memorial Stair Climbs.
Each 9/11 Memorial Stair Climb honors the 343 FDNY firefighters killed in the 9/11 attacks. Some stair climbs take place inside building stairwells, with participants climbing up and down stairs until they reach 110 stories, or 2,200 steps, the equivalent of the 110 stories of the World Trade Center. Others occur in outdoor arenas and stadiums. Any person, anywhere in the world, can also register and take part in a virtual stair climb.
“This is a really significant event for the firefighting community. Firefighters, their families, and their community participate in a variety of ways across the country. No matter the approach, everyone is symbolically completing the heroic journey of an FDNY firefighter to honor the lives lost,” Chief Ron Siarnicki, Executive Director of the National Fallen Firefighters Foundation, explains. “This is one way all of us can say – even though it’s been 20 years, we will never forget the heroic sacrifice these first responders made on September 11, 2001.”
9/11 Memorial Stair Climbs also play an essential role in helping firehero families. They are a primary fundraising source for the National Fallen Firefighters Foundation (NFFF), which creates and maintains programs that support the families and co-workers of fallen firefighters in New York City and across the country. Programs like the FDNY Counseling Service Unit, which the NFFF has funded since September 2001.
“We learned a lot following the 9-11 attacks about what fire departments and families of fallen firefighters need following a large number of line-of-duty deaths in a department. Those same counseling, grief, and support programs we developed to support FDNY after 9-11 are now used to help any other fire service community that experiences firefighter deaths, and the money raised during stair climbs funds all of that important work,” Siarnicki explains.
Visit NationalStairClimb.org to register or take part in a stair climb near you. You can also register as a virtual climber to climb, walk, run or bike ride outside or inside at a gym between September 11 and October 31. Virtual participants will be able to access a toolkit that includes badges for the heroes that died on that fatal day, an opening ceremony video and access to a digital bell to ring when they complete the event.