NFFF:The National 9/11 Memorial Stair Climb is taking place on Sunday, October 15, at the USTA Billie Jean Tennis Center in Queens, New York. What do you want people to know about the climb?
Joe Minogue: I think it’s important to know why we climb – we climb to remember and honor. Recently, the FDNY announced that 343 FDNY members have died since 9/11 because of World Trade Center (WTC) illnesses. So, this year, we are climbing for the 343 FDNY firefighters who died on 9/11 and the 343 FDNY firefighters who died since 9/11. The stairs we will climb symbolize the 110 stories of the WTC Towers, and each participant will carry with them the badge of a fallen FDNY firefighter. Our goal is to ensure every firefighter is represented, and we aren’t quite there yet. So, I encourage everyone to register on nationalstairclimb.org.
Registration is $50, and with that, you get a 9/11 Memorial Stair Climb t-shirt, a badge with the name and picture of a fallen FDNY firefighter, and the post-climb reception. The funds raised by the participants directly support the FDNY’s Counseling Service Unit and the National Fallen Firefighters Foundation programs. Plus, you can fundraise from now through the end of December to support these important groups supporting firefighters and their families.
Think about it. Five generations are now impacted by 9/11, and we are committed to each of those generations and future generations.
NFFF: What can people expect at the National Stair Climb?
Joe Minogue: First, let’s talk about getting to the USTA Billie Jean Tennis Center. We are excited to be at this historic venue this year, and the new location makes it easy for people to take public transportation to the stadium. We even have a link for directions, including subway and train schedules.
The National Stair Climb schedule is:
- 9:00 am: Onsite registration (*You are highly encouraged to register ahead of time to guarantee you will get a t-shirt.)
- 10:00 am: Opening ceremony with the FDNY Honor Guard and Pipes and Drums
- 10:30 am: Climb begins
- 12:00 pm: Climb ends
The post-climb reception will include music, food, and family-friendly activities. If you have friends or family members who want to come for the reception, they can buy a reception ticket: $35 for ages 13+, $20 for ages 4-12, and children under 3 are free. Registration for the reception is also on nationalstairclimb.org.
The climb is a time for reflection, honor, and healing. It is also a time to remember the fallen by being together to let their friends and family know that their firefighters will never be forgotten. That is our promise. That is our duty. And that is what we will be doing on Sunday, October 15.
NFFF: We understand people have different athletic abilities and encourage everyone to participate to the best of their abilities. Can you discuss something unique at this year’s climb for people who may not want to do the stair climb?
Joe Minogue: This event is for everyone…not just firefighters, not just athletes. Some people may want to come to see the moving opening ceremony or to enjoy the camaraderie of the reception after the climb. If you are on the fence about whether you want to climb, go ahead and try it, and you can stop when you want. Everyone may have their own motivation for climbing. Maybe they know someone who died that day, maybe they are part of a firefighter family, or maybe they want to challenge themselves to do something they normally wouldn’t do. NFFF representatives and FDNY-related volunteers are there to support you regardless of your motivation.
This year, because of the exciting new location, participants don’t even have to climb stairs to participate in honoring the fallen. They can walk around the concourse level of the Louis Armstrong Stadium. The most important thing is to show up to honor the fallen firefighters of 9/11 in whatever way you can.
NFFF: Describe how people can participate if they can’t attend in person.
Joe Minogue: The virtual stair climb is something we started during the pandemic, and many told us that we should keep it going—so we did! For $35, people anywhere in the country or the world can participate virtually. Any time between now and December 31, you can climb the equivalent of 110 stories (2,240 steps) or even run, walk, or bike 9.11 miles. We have created a website just for virtual participants, and it includes printable badges, a digital bell to ring, and there will soon be an opening ceremony video. Virtual participants also receive the event t-shirt, and just like with the in-person climb, there are some pretty nice gifts for raising money, including a challenge coin if you raise $110 or more.
NFFF: Joe, thank you for all your efforts and those of everyone who has been working on this for over a year. Any final thoughts?
Joe Minogue: It really does take a village to pull this off, and our goals are simple: to honor the fallen and to ensure that everyone has a great, safe, and memorable time at the climb. This wouldn’t be possible without our partnerships with the FDNY, FDNY Counseling Service Unit, the FDNY Uniformed Firefighters Association, the FDNY Uniformed Fire Officers Association, and Local 2507. Thank you also to our sponsors, Cintas, Johnson Controls, Oaktree, and Fire News.
So register, tell your friends and family to register, and we will see you on Sunday, October 15!
About Joe Minogue
Joe Minogue is the National Stair Climb coordinator, NFFF liaison to FDNY, and the New York State lead advocate for Nassau and Suffolk Counties. Joe is a retired lieutenant from the FDNY, starting his FDNY career in Engine 289 and worked in Ladder 153 and Engine 229. After September 11th, Joe became one of the FDNY Buglers. Shortly after his promotion to lieutenant, he was made the commanding officer for the FDNY Ceremonial Unit. Joe was a field lieutenant in Brooklyn Engine Company 290 and Ladder Company 103.