An absolute highlight of my career/profession/life.
A lot of work and a lot of thought and a lot of care have gone into planning the stair climbs locally and nationally over the last 11 years. Throughout all of that planning, there have been several program positions that are uncompromisable…including 1) money raised using 9/11 would go back to the FDNY and whatever they saw appropriate, 2) what the families say is non-negotiable, and 3) what the FDNY says is standard. For example, the FDNY has worked on the idea of a stair climb in NYC for a few years now, but for a variety of reasons, it just wasn’t the right thing to do. Additionally, the FDNY has stated that when looking at doing a stair climb in the city, they would not be supportive of a climb in lower Manhattan…just too close to too many things (physically and emotionally). So when the FDNY said that they were ready to have a climb in the city, it was a significant marker in the stair climb program.
I had a chance to fly out in the spring to assist the FDNY with a site visit at Citi Field (home of the NY Mets) and to begin the planning of the climb that would eventually be held in October. The FDNY, and the FDNY Counseling Services Unit were completely behind the effort and dedicated equipment, units, and lots of hours of work on the climb…and they were extremely successful with the final outcome.
Ahna and I, along with the rest of the NFFF Stair Climb Steering Committee had the opportunity to travel to NYC to assist with the climb. It was such an honor to be part of the event, to see the firefighters climbing, to be witness to the FDNY support, and to spend time with crews that lost friends, and families that lost husbands and fathers. It was especially touching to talk with the kids of the firefighters who were able to find their father’s photo card, and climb for him. The event was incredible, and I am pretty sure that I was somewhere between clouds nine and 10 for the entire duration – and to be able to spend that event with the other members of the committee and with Ahna was very special.
After the event, we were able to spend a day and a half in the city exploring Manhattan. We had the chance to go to Ground Zero and to go to the 9/11 Museum – which was an incredibly emotional experience (especially after doing the climb the morning prior). The museum is beautiful and extremely well done, packed with a ton of information and artifact. After the museum, we wandered around Central Park, MOMA, and finished the evening at a Michelin starred vegetarian restaurant and drinks above Broadway/Times Square. We even squeezed in a midnight ice skate at Rockefeller Center.
The trip was a great get-a-away with Ahna, and a physically and emotionally exhausting and fulfilling experience. And now the planning begins for 2016…