NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) – Hundreds of first responders from around the world honored 9/11 victims Saturday by taking part in the fifth annual New York City Memorial Stair Climb at the World Trade Center.
Wearing full firefighter gear, firefighter from at least 11 countries climbed 80 floors in a matter of minutes, reports CBS2’s Marc Liverman.
Many carried photos of specific heroes who they were climbing to honor.
“This gentleman here his name is Geoffrey Guja,” said FDNY Assistant Chief. “He was one of my covering lieutenants and I found him that day.”
“I’m climbing for Neil Levy, Engine 217, that’s who I’m climbing for,” said firefighter Rhys Eastham of Carlisle Pennsylvania Fire and Rescue.
“Fausina Augustal was Battalion 2 so his memory, his family and I hope if they’re watching they see that he’s still with us,” said Chief Adam Roth, also of Carlisle.
Even when dressed in more than 65 pounds of gear, the runners made fast work getting all the way to the top.
“They had to think that they had to save everyone that they could, so you’re thinking that you have to go up there and just honor them by going up as much as you can,” said Bridgette Badalis of the Toms River Fire Department. “You can’t stop, you can’t quit.”
“When you talk about honoring those who fell on 9/11, not just on 9/11 but all the people as a result of that day,” said Chief Adam Ross. “We’re talking about the first responders who, 10 years later, are no longer with us. You talk about all the soldiers. A lot of people who carry military flags in my group are either retired military or currently serving, and two of our guys are getting ready to deploy. We’re honoring their service.
“It’s all about the service and the sacrifice. Every floor that you go, there’s a picture of somebody that’s no longer with us,” he said. “So it keeps you going. You’re always saying ‘never forget.’ And that’s what this is all about.”
“It’s really amazing. I wasn’t a member on 9/11, but to just to be able to be part of it is really a humbling and honorable experience,” a firefighter named Mike told Liverman. “Just to be able to remember, to honor all the men and women who died on that day, the first responders and all the members with post-9/11 illnesses. It really is an amazing feeling. We just want to honor all those victims and all those first responders. We’re happy to be here.”
“It’s pretty incredible,” event organizer Chris told Liverman. “Our main focus is to honor those people…. it’s amazing to see how it’s growing every year and how active people are and wanting to come out and participate.”
This year’s beneficiary is the charity A Soldier’s Journey Home, which builds homes for wounded veterans. Climbers have raised more than $79,000 for the organization.