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9/11 Memorial stair climb held Sunday in Montgomery

Montgomery, Alabama, USA downtown skyline at dusk.

Most people can easily climb one flight of stairs, but going two flights of stairs in a three-story home is a little more challenging. Many people start looking for the elevator to reach the fourth floor in an office building. Climbing the stairs in a ten-story office building is a cardio workout for most folks.

Imagine trying to climb 110 floors in full firefighter gear with a building on fire and thousands of people needing your assistance? That “worst scenario” is what New York City Fire Department firefighters faced on September 11, 2001.

412 first responders were killed that day, including 343 firefighters.

In honor of those fallen heroes, seven years ago the Pike Road Fire Department organized the Annual Alabama Remember 9/11 Memorial Stair Climb. Participants climb 110 stories in Montgomery. Obviously, there is nothing like the 110 story World Trade Center towers in Alabama. The closest tower we can come up with in Montgomery is the RSA Tower, the tallest building in Montgomery at 397 feet. To equal the former WTC towers, participants in the Memorial Stair Climb have to climb the stairs in the 22 story tall RSA Tower five times.

This year’s memorial stair climb was held on Sunday, September 16, 2018. The Alabama Remembers 9/11 Memorial Stair Climb is a way for firefighters and members of the community to individually honor and pay tribute to those heroic FDNY firefighters. Opening ceremonies were at 9:00 AM and the climb started at 10:00 AM. Participants raised money and worked at their own pace to complete the challenge. Some firefighters did it in full gear. Individuals, teams, current firefighters, and corporate sponsors all contributed to this event. The City of Montgomery and RSA donated manpower and use of the skyscraper to complete the climb.

This year’s attendees included: Pike Road Mayor Gordon Stone, Montgomery County Commission Chairman Doug Singleton, Economic Developer Nicole Jones, representatives from fire departments across Alabama and the Florida panhandle, and hundreds of participants and spectators wanting to honor the heroic sacrifices of the first responders on 9/11.

The Town of Pike Road shared on social media, “Red, white, and blue (skies) were the center of attention this morning at the #AlabamaRemembers Memorial Stair Climb, hosted each year by Pike Road Fire. Firefighters from across the state came together to pay tribute to the men and women who made the ultimate sacrifice while responding to the terror attacks of September 11, 2001. It was an honor to be part of this incredible event! Thank you, Pike Road Fire, volunteers, and event organizer Dana Grubbs for all you do for our community with this event, and every day!”

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The event coordinator is Dana Grubbs.

“Volunteers climb 22 floors, five times each, to equal the 110 floors of the World Trade Center. It hits home to first responders, because of 343 firefighters who died from the New York Fire Department,” Grubbs said. “That is the largest number of firefighters who died at any one time. The annual event is open to the public. Anyone can come and join us.”
“This was definitely a challenge,” said Trussville firefighter Jacob Carr. “My hat goes off to the guys that actually did it. That is the thing driving me to finish up today.”

Economic developer Nicole Jones completed the climb in a record thirty minutes.

“It is difficult to put into words the emotion experienced today as we climbed 110 stories in memory of fallen 9/11 firefighters,” Nicole Jones told the Alabama Political Reporter. “This beautiful event on a Montgomery Sunday forever etched a token of appreciation for fallen 9/11 firefighters on my heart. Each participant was assigned a fallen hero. To the family of Captain Thomas C. Moody, I will climb annually in your honor.”

The Stair Climb benefits the FDNY Counseling Service Unit (CSU) and the programs provided by the National Fallen Firefighters Foundation (NFFF) to support the families of our nation’s fallen firefighters.

According to Wikipedia, the RSA Tower was built in 1996 and is the sixth largest building in the state of Alabama. The tallest building in Alabama is the RSA Battle House Tower in Mobile. The RSA Battle House Tower, built in 2007, is 745 feet tall and has 35 floors.

2,977 people were killed in the September 11 attacks. Since 9-11 over 1000 of the workers involved in the aftermath of 9-11, many of them the first responders involved in the rescue and recovery efforts, have died from illnesses associated with the toxic mix of ash and dust swirling from the burning craters of the WTC towers. Over 37,000 are officially acknowledged as having illnesses (many of them lung illnesses) associated with being at or near ground zero in the days and weeks following 9-11. Health officials have suggested that within five years the number who will have died from 9-11 syndrome will exceed the number that died on September 11, 2001.

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(Original reporting from WSFA Channel 12 in Montgomery contributed to this report.)

Brandon Moseley is a former reporter at the Alabama Political Reporter.

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