For yet another year, the San Diego 9-11 Memorial Stair Climb, put on by Firefighter Aid, has set new records as the event remembers those who fell on Sept. 11, 2001 while continuing to support those who have and are serving in the fire community. Firefighter Aid provides a number of services to firefighters year-round.
Providing motivation during the opening ceremonies, attendees heard first from former California Assembly Representative Nathan Fletcher, who remembered how he and his young son had made the stair climb together the previous year. This year, Fletcher made the climb wearing full turnouts and carrying an SCBA. Putting life in perspective, Lauren Manning, who was burned over 85 percent of her body when the first plane ripped into the twin towers, told how she had struggled back from near death, fighting for months just to be able to see her son again, and then continuing on with rehabilitation and therapy. She impressed many with just how important every day is and how we all must make a difference with what we are given.
As it has every year since the stair climb started, the San Diego Hilton Bayfront Hotel provided the staging area and the stairs for the climbers to ascend 110 flights of stairs, the same number as were climbed at the World Trade Center on that fateful day 14 years ago. The Hilton is only 30 stories tall, so each climber had to repeat the climb several times, amassing a total of 110 flights of stairs.
The 403 first responders who fell on that fateful day were remembered; every climber carried an image of one of the fallen, and called out their name as they began the climb.
This year saw 1,100 firefighters, border patrol officers, police officers, family members, civilians and even young children climbing, in remembrance of those lost and in support of those who are and have served. While many came from San Diego and surrounding areas, others came from Los Angeles, Palm Springs, San Jose, Pechanga, the Yuma Proving Grounds and even New Zealand, demonstrating once again what a tight family first responders are.
On the stairs, team work shined this year. If one climber was slower, everyone in the group was slower, helping each other along. If one needed help, several pitched in. The yells of encouragement were deafening at times, especially at the top of the stairs. Firefighters carried hose packs, axes, air bottles and other firefighting implements. Toward the end, many civilians helped carry some of the extra weight, easing the load on those who started out with so much.