It is not every day you get to honor someone who died is a tragic event, but two Great Bend firefighters had that opportunity last weekend by participating in the annual 9/11 Memorial Stair Climbs. Fire Chief Luke McCormick attended an event in Kansas City, Kan., while firefighter Cameron Benefiel attended one in Wichita with his father, Wichita firefighter Thomas Benefiel. On Sept. 9, each of them climbed the equivalent of the 110 stories of the World Trade Center.
The 9/11 Memorial Stair Climbs are not timed race events, but a way for firefighters and the community to honor and remember the Fire Department of New York (FDNY) firefighters who selflessly gave their lives so that others might live, according to information from the National Fallen Firefighters Foundation. Each participant pays tribute to one FDNY firefighter by name as well as to all of the 343 FDNY firefighters who died responding to the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001.
“This is such a great event,” Benefiel said. “It was a great honor to do this with my father to honor those that passed during 9/11. It was a bit a challenge, but I prepared myself for the event.”
The proceeds of these events help the National Fallen Firefighters Foundation create and maintain programs that support fire service survivors. Proceeds of the 9/11 Memorial Stair Climbs provide assistance to the surviving families and coworkers of the 343 firefighters who made the ultimate sacrifice on September 11, 2001.
“I had the honor to participate in the 9/11 Memorial Stair Climb event in Kansas City to pay tribute to the firefighters that died during 9/11,” McCormick said. “This is the eighth year that this event has been held in Kansas City. We are looking forward to do it again next year.”
National Fallen Firefighters Foundation
Congress created the National Fallen Firefighters Foundation (www.firehero.org) to lead a nationwide effort to honor America’s fallen firefighters. Since 1992, the non-profit Foundation has developed and expanded programs that fulfill that mandate.
Its mission is to honor and remember America’s fallen fire heroes and to provide resources to assist their survivors in rebuilding their lives and work within the fire service community to reduce firefighter deaths and injuries.