Eleven different fire departments took to the stairs at HSHS St. Anthony’s Memorial Hospital Sunday to commemorate the 15th Anniversary of the September 11th, 2001 terrorist attacks. To participate, climbers raise money to support the families of fallen firefighters through the National Fallen firefighter Foundation. During the climb, firefighters don full gear and climb 110 stories to simulate the what the New York City Fire Department had to do to save lives after the attacks. With St. Anthony’s 6 stories, plus a penthouse, climbers need to go up and down about 18 times for the full experience. Each climber also wore the name badge of firefighter killed in the attack.
The event is organized by Shumway Firefighter Jerrod Estes and Shumway Fire Chief Johnathan Poholke and is currently in its third year. According to Estes, the event has grown each year. The first climb just had around 7 climbers but has now grown to near capacity – 75 climbers – for St. Anthony’s.
The program opened with the posting of the colors, a welcome from Effingham Fire Chief Joe Holomy, a speech from St. Anthony’s President and CEO Theresa Rutherford, a prayer, and a bell ceremony. According to Estes the, the bell ceremony is the firefighter equivalent of a 21 gun salute.
Teutopolis Firefighter, and Effingham County Telecommunicator, Chad Mette said that he participates in climb to ensure that the victims of 9/11 are never forgotten. This was his first climb, but he hopes to participate again next year.
This year’s climb also featured an I-beam that survived from one of the Twin Towers. The beam traveled throughout the day from Effingham, to Beecher City, and to Pana.