Area firefighters take part in 9/11 Stair Climb

Steve Chapman

Captain Bob Duda, of the City of Marionville Fire Department, prepares to complete his fourth lap at the Plaster Sports Arena. Like many of the other firefighters, Duda wore his firefighting gear during his climb.  (Photo by Steve Chapman)

Annual event honors firefighters who died at World Trade Center on 9/11
Firefighters from Aurora and Marionville 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. At the event, 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 the firefighters at the World Trade Center did.
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.
Captains Bob Duda and Gary Bullock, both of the Marionville City Fire Department, took part in the event.
 “This is my fourth year doing this,” he said. “I was inspired when I heard about it. I was inspired by what happened on 9/11 of 2001, and it’s just a way to give respects and to give honor to those who lost their lives that day.”
Bullock said he participated in it to show his support for his fellow firefighters.
“I just wanted to support my brothers and the ones who were lost,” he said.
Stormy Jones and Crystal Mourning, of the Aurora Rural Fire Protection District, said they also wanted to honor those who fell on 9/11.
“We wanted to carry them to the very top,” Jones said.
Not everyone who made the climb were firefighters. Chrissy Forrester, of Aurora, a civilian, also took part in the climb with her husband. It was her first year to participate.
“I like to do volunteer stuff, and this is for a worthy cause,” she said.
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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