DEERFIELD – Jeff Burkhart, director and founder of the Central New York Memorial Stair Climb, joined NewsTalk Thursday evening to talk about the fourth annual climb on Saturday, Sept. 8.
The CNY Memorial Stair Climb is an annual event held in honor of the hundreds of first responders who died on Sept. 11, 2001. More than 420 firefighters, law enforcement officers and EMS personnel will climb 110 flights of stairs – the same number of floors that were in the World Trade Center – in full turnout gear and uniforms.
Each of the climbers will carry a tag bearing the name, photo and agency of one of the first responders who died on 9/11, and at the end of the climb they’ll place the tag on a memory board.
The public is invited to stop by the Utica State Office Building on Saturday to watch the climb. The opening ceremony will begin at 8:30 a.m., with a moment of silence at 8:45 a.m. and the first wave of climbers beginning at 8:46 a.m. – the same time that the first plane stuck the North Tower.
Burkhart says that one of the best things about the event is that climbers really get to know the person they’re climbing in honor of. Climbers are notified about a month ahead of time who they’ll be climbing for so that they have time to research the person, and many end up posting their story on social media and even have that person’s family reaching out to them.
“That’s why we say this is a living, breathing memorial. It’s not just somebody waving a flag,” Burkhart said. “We’re actually going through and we’re walking in the steps, if you will, as close as we possibly could.”