On September 7th 2013 members of the fire, police, and EMS family will gather at the Duke Energy Center to climb in memory of those lost on 9/11. For those of you that have not participated before, I offer this perspective. What does climbing 110 flights of stairs have to offer? This opportunity is about history, it’s about remembrance, and it’s about camaraderie. The fire service is about family. Our family consists of a unique group of individuals who, despite their differences or backgrounds, come together with their collective strengths and accomplish amazing things under very harsh circumstances. We come from all walks of life. We are a diverse group of men and women who, as a whole, care about others more than ourselves. We share a common drive to better ourselves all for the sake of others. Our stations are called “fire houses” because they are our “home away from home”. We spend approximately 1/3rd of our lives with our brothers and sisters in the fire house. We come to know the good, bad, and the ugly sides of one another and work through it all. We are there for our fellow citizens in the tough times and we are there for each other in our times of difficulty. This is an opportunity to help other firefighters who may be going through difficult times. The men and women who perished on 9/11 held the line and didn’t back down in the face of adversity. We can pay tribute to them and their loved ones by honoring that sacrifice by climbing, donating, volunteering, and sponsorship.
If you choose to participate in this event, it will change and challenge you. It will cause you to reflect on those members who climbed that day possibly knowing in their heart that they would not get to see their loved ones again. We climb because we want to remember, we want to pay tribute, and we want to express our support to our brothers and sisters across the country. This event is an excellent opportunity to bond as a crew and to bring your family as well. It takes approximately 100 individuals to organize and implement the event. It takes hundreds of hours of planning, fundraising, and working with our local media to raise awareness of the event. We need your support and are currently asking for volunteers to work the event. We will be selling T-Shirts and challenge coins this year as well.
All of the funds raised from this event go to support various charities but the main beneficiary is the National Fallen Firefighter’s Foundation. I challenge each of you to read about this organization and learn about their positive efforts which range from: funding the FDNY counseling unit , to providing travel, lodging, and meals for immediate survivors of fallen firefighters being honored at the national tribute to all firefighters who died in the line of duty during the previous year, to providing families of the fallen with emotional assistance through a Fire Service Survivors Network, which matches survivors with similar experiences and circumstances and the list goes on. Check out:http://www.firehero.org/about/ to learn more.
In closing, we humbly ask for your support of the CFFA 9/11 Memorial Stair Climb. We are in need of your participation, volunteers to help run the event, sponsorship (you can sponsor a floor for $100), and we need individuals interested in being on the committee to continue into the years ahead. I thank you for your time and consideration. I ask that you take a moment and in the wake of all of the firefighters we have lost this year to remember them. Read the NIOSH reports, train, exercise, and take care of each other. I asked a member of the FDNY after 9/11 what could I do to support or help our brothers and this is what he told me “Each day that you work, get off the couch, and encourage others to do the same.”
We look forward to seeing you there,
Andy J. Starnes
CFFA 9/11 Stair Climb Committee