Area firefighters take part in 9/11 Stair Climb

Firefighters from Ash Grove, Bois D’Arc, Battlefield, Clever, Republic and Willard were among the 360 people who gathered at Plaster Sports Complex on the campus of Missouri State University Saturday, Sept. 7, for the 7th annual Springfield Area Memorial 9/11 Stair Climb.
The event is held every year to honor the 343 firefighters who lost their lives at the World Trade Center while responding to the attacks in New York City on Sept. 11, 2001. Each climber went four laps on the east side of the complex, with a lap consisting of climbing up and down all the stairs between the aisles; the equivalent of the 110 stories of the World Trade Center. Many of the firefighters made the climb while wearing their full firefighting gear, as did the firefighters at the World Trade Center.
Each climber also carried name badges of at least one of the firefighters with them, and after completing their third lap, they went out onto the football field, read the firefighter’s name aloud and then rang a silver bell before going on to complete the fourth lap. In doing this, they symbolically carried the firefighters up the 110 stories of the trade center.
James Altic and his wife, Liz, were among the firefighters from Willard who chose to take part in the event.
“I’m actually the driving force behind this,” Liz said. “I just joined the Willard Fire Department as a volunteer, and it’s the first time I felt eligible to do this. My husband James has been a firefighter … for 15 years. Because I wanted to do it, I asked him to do it with me.”
Ashley Shine, of the Republic Fire Department, said participating in the event was important to her.
“We’ve actually had a line-of-duty death in our department, so any time we can participate in something like this, it actually makes a big difference to us in our department and everybody around here,” she said.
Orion Stidham, also of the Republic Fire Department, said he participated in the event because he felt it was important to remember the events of 9/11.
“Nine-eleven was a very tragic, but important day in our history,” he said. “(We need) to always remember the sacrifices that were made that day and to honor the men and women that died.”
All of the firefighters interviewed said they had practiced climbing stairs for months to prepare for the 9/11 Stair Climb, but doing it was still a challenge.
In addition to honoring the fallen 343, the event was a fundraiser, with every participant paying at least $35 to register in the event. The money went to the National Fallen Firefighters Foundation.

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Lawrence County Record

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