On Thursday, at 1400 hrs Eastern Time, my buddy Captain Willie Wines and a few of his friends will don their turn-outs, helmets and gloves - and begin climbing a flight of stairs. It is a task that they all have done many times, but this time is different. As they continue their climb, their lower backs will start to ache, their lungs will burn and their thighs and legs will start to feel like lead. They won't stop until they have climbed the equivalent of 110 flights of stairs - the number of flights that members of the FDNY began to climb almost ten years ago.
As Wines, Rhett Fleitz and Kevin's turn out gear begin to fill with sweat, they will not lose their grip on photographs of FDNY firefighters who fell on September 11, 2011, ones who didn't get to complete their climb. These guys and many others are choosing to honor the fallen with more than words and money, but with sweat, pain, blisters and guts.
Willie, Rhett and Kevin are participating in a 9-11 memorial stair climb at the Fire House Expo in Baltimore Md. This climb is one of many planned this year, the proceeds of which benefit the National Fallen Firefighters Foundation. There are numerous other climbs throughout the country, all are open to both firefighters and civilians. If you think that you might want to participate, visit the 9-11 Memorial Stairclimb web page. Locations and contact info are posted, as well as background info.
While the lads are climbing, I will be attending a retirement luncheon for one of the District secretaries. I am not sure how long the climb takes, but I am pretty sure I will still be at the luncheon when they finish up. Around 1300 (1600 eastern) or so, I'll pop the cap on an ice cold Pacifico and raise it to the east. Good on ya laddies, strong work.
Thanks for reading,