Brian’s firefighter ceremony at my house the other night went off fabulous and was an absolutely amazing evening for a very special six-year old. Family, friends, cartoon characters, community members, firefighters from multiple departments, and just people COMING TOGETHER for a cause. He will no doubt be talking about the event for awhile, but the effect that he had on everyone that night and going forward is where we will see even more impact. Those that got something from it as well and were able to take away strength, courage, fight, and so much more.
We had never performed an honorary firefighter service, but from the looks of it that evening, NO ONE could tell. The organized efforts of many that came together for this and the teamwork was so strong that it just went off perfect. Sure we has little glitches, a vocalist for the national anthem gets sick, no problem, in a small town we know all sorts of people with connection…SOLVED. Air Evac 107, the medical helicopter has to leave, no problem, there were still a lot of kids that got to see it and check them out. The thing was, it didn’t make a difference, when you’re giving of your time, your heart, your soul, and helping others, you can’t go wrong!
We entered with bagpipes, an honor guard, the National Anthem was sung, we prayed, we spoke of what characteristics he has that make him an excellent firefighter, and we encouraged him and his family. Numerous gifts were presented, custom fire gear, a helmet, an official badge, and many others. He took his oath and then was carried out to the rescue to put out his first fire.
Take a look at the short video from the event, the full video is still being edited. What an amazing night for Brian to be able to feel the love and know he’s not in this alone.
What an exciting night coming up at my firehouse. My 2015/2016 Scott Firefighter Stair Climb honoree Brian Ford is holding a special ceremony to make him an honorary firefighter with the Fredericktown Community Fire District!
The ceremony will begin at 6:00pm at our main firehouse at 139 Columbus Road in Fredericktown. Now I realize probably 99% of my followers and readers are from abroad, so that makes it hard to attend. Brian would still LOVE for you to be a part of his ceremony! Departments and firefighters can post up to our event page over on our department Facebook page https://www.facebook.com/fcfd410/ Post a pic of your crew and or apparatus with some inspiring words and a shoutout to a new member. Have Brian be a part of your crew and show a pic of him on your assignment board or accountability boards during a shift. Make sure to hashtag the photos with #BRIANSWARRIORS so his followers can check it out as well! If you’re not on Facebook, send the pics over to me at email@example.com
A little brief on Brian…
Brian was diagnosed late in 2014 with acute undifferentiated leukemia, which is a rare form of cancer. Since that time he has underwent a bone marrow transplant, expecting that was his cure. Unfortunately his leukemia came back. He received a stem cell transplant in 2016, anticipating it to be the cure, but sadly it wasn’t enough and he is now considered terminal.
Brian was first introduced to me in late 2014 and shortly after diagnosis. I noticed a friend change a Facebook pic to the telltale orange ribbon for leukemia so I made contact. They told me a little of the story and put me in contact with Brians mom Tory. Being an ambassador to the Scott Firefighter Stair Climg, which benefits the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society, one of our many roles is being an outreach into our communities. I met Brian and his family shortly after the first diagnosis, going on to make him an honoree the last two years for the international event and bringing him to the firehouse.
About the event on Thursday…
The Thursday event is open to the public and light refreshments will be served after the ceremony. Due to some parking restraints at the firehouse, those who are able may want to park at the old Fredericktown High School located up the street at 117 Columbus Road. Departments sending apparatus should contact the firehouse at 740-694-9701 to coordinate vehicle placement.
Here is the video wrap up from the 25th Annual Scott Firefighter Stair Climb in Seattle, WA. The event which i talk about throughout the year is a fundraiser for the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society. Most don’t know that after I complete my day in competition that I volunteer through the rest of the day with some amazing photographers to capture and document the event. Here is a video that I put together from this years climb.
CLICK THE VIDEO TO VIEW IT FROM YOUTUBE
How I dropped 2:18 from my time at the 2016 Scott Firefighter Stair Climb
What an event this year at the 25th annual Scott Firefighter Stair Climb. I hope to put together several articles about the event as there is so much to go over, but this one will focus on how I set a new PR. Between last year and this year I managed to drop 2:18 off my time from 2015 to set a new PR at the Columbia Center Tower. For those that don’t know about the event, the competition is done in full firefighting PPE with SCBA and on breathing air. Skyscrapers are a challenge to race anywyas, but to do so with that much gear on is a feat.
Long before the planning of the how I was going to take on the tower this year I had heard about a new and amazing product called the “Blast Mask”. The design of the device allows it to attach to your SCBA mask and lets you train your body with a resistant to challenge your cardiorespiratory system. Shortly after the New Year I made the decision to invest in the product and try it out myself. Like anything, I won’t recommend a product I don’t own, or don’t use and believe in. It didn’t take long to like the product and love what it did for me. You can find the review here. So for the better part of three months even while not in gear, I used the Blast Mask for my training climbs.
How do I know that the Blast Mask made a difference? Because i track what I do, how I do it, and this was the only major addition to my workout regimen from last year to now. Sure I did more with weights, and in fact I thought because I was focusing more with lifting that I may be missing out. I was wrong. This product was challenging me, and working my body to prepare me to excel and make a difference.
I always like to set goals for events and come up with a plan for each so that I have something to shoot for and challenge myself. When I came up with the plan I decided on being down in the 25-minute range (25th anniversary), be a VIP, and have a great year of fundraising. When I drew up my map of the building and where I wanted to be I had plans for pace, plans for style, and how to get it done. When I passed the bottle change floor I was shocked as I was only about 12 seconds off from where I planned on being. When I crossed the finish I was shocked. I saw my time on my Fitbit and couldn’t believe it. It was almost an hour before I could find out the finish time and if I pulled it off.
Did the climb challenge me, you bet! Did I feel winded like before where I was gasping for air and running into air supply issues, NO! Don’t get me wrong, there were times of struggle and times where my pace slowed down, but overall I felt better and felt more physically prepared for the event. What got me there to where I wanted to be at this year had two parts, one was the increased intensity of training with the Blast Mask, and the other was the sheer mental part of fighting for my honorees. The physical aspect can be expected to help, the mental aspect is one that you can never really tell just how much it will push you.
If you’re looking for a great product, check them out. The fire service as a whole is stuck in a rut where our LODD revolve around health issues being a leading cause, lets focus on dropping that number. You say its not possible? I say let me show you people and determination that are making it possible!
#BRIANSWARRIORS and #FF4CURES are looking for some help to cheer on and encourage my honoree, 6-year old Brian Ford. Brian is in the fight for his life right now and in need of a miracle as his leukemia is now resistant to chemotherapy and is now considered terminal. They are prepping for a stem cell transplant as he enters Nationwide Children’s Hospital in Columbus today.
Look for me at the get together on Friday night at Gordon Biersch that is hosted by Adrian Barajas. On Friday night you can drop off shirts (he’s a youth medium), patches, coins, chips, etc. off as Adrian has graciously offered to have a table setup to collect these. I will also have a banner if those stopping by would like to sign. This banner will be coming back to Columbus and presented to him.
Sunday I will have a table setup at the climb in the lower level where the announcements, etc will be made. At the table I will have space for everyone to sign his banner (Firefighters, volunteers, other honorees, ANYONE!!!) Lets fill this and show him the how many people are fighting for him, and others battling these diseases. Also at the table there will be photos or ID badges with Brians picture on them. Please take a picture and clip it to your gear, hang from your helmet, or somehow carry him to the top. Remember step after step, the faces of the people that we are trying to save. Please return these if you can when finished so the upcoming battalions can take him as well. Have a picture with his card or want to send a team photo along to him, please contact me through FB or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org / 740-627-1664
Not at the climb and your crew wants to support Brian Ford, send along a photo to me on here or through email. Is he riding with you today at your house, send a photo of your assignment board or your crew. Photos will be printed and posted on his updates site as well. Lets make this thing go viral. I’ve seen it done before and participated as well. Take a moment to help out and lift the spirits of a six-year-old that’s in a fight!
Scott Firefighter Stair Climb Ambassaor – Eastern/Central U.S.
Fredericktown Community Fire District, Ohio
I love to see new events pop up that are within my driving distance that I can add in. I love them even more when it is an event that is for a cause that I have a huge passion and drive for! I heard a few months back that there might be this new climb coming to Philadelphia and that it was a “BIG CLIMB” that is a fundraiser from the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society. I knew that their organizers had spoken to ours our in Seattle at the LLS and was pretty amped up to hear about it!
Over the last 10 years competing in the Scott Firefighter Stair Climb I have strived to push and promote the cause of the LLS due to what I have seen and know the organization does. Now I have the ability to be a part of another great LLS climb and ADD an event to my list.
While I was out in Philadelphia I had the opportunity to check out the building and see what I was going to be up against. 43 floors, 1,092 steps, 664 feet up the Comcast Center building!
This is not a firefighter climb or a gear climb where we can participate in gear or with any type of packs or equipment, but a regular stair climb. HOWEVER…That doesn’t mean you shouldn’t get involved. It should be “easier”, right? 🙂 43 floors is a great test of the cardio endurance and for such a great cause. Get signed up and get training, it won’t take long for a new climb to fill up, as there are only 1500 spots available.
What a great weekend it was in Philadelphia for the Step up Philly Climb that benefitted the Special Olympics organization. A super cause where the event helps pay for the costs of training and competition for the athletes and their families! I arrived a little later than I wanted to on Saturday night, but I added about 150 miles to the trip with an Ohio stop in the morning. Rain…rain…rain, the trip started out wet and gray, but the fall scenery through Ohio and Pennsylvania was still gorgeous.
A great night of rest and I arrived at the BNY Melon building with plenty of time to spare on Sunday morning to compete. The organizers of the event were gracious enough to allow me to compete twice in their event. I started my first climb in running attire in the stairwell used by the multi-climbers. I was a little nervous but pretty pumped about hitting this 53-floor climb event twice. I had a small issue with the pace and falling into the right rhythm, but that only lasted a few floors. I know that my distraction left some seconds on the course for sure and I hope to get those next year. I finished the civilian climb with a 9:46 and a 13th place overall.
I got about a 40-minute break before my second climb which drew a little attention. This year unfortunately there weren’t any other firefighters climbing in gear. Maybe it was the different weekend they set the event for, I don’t know. Geared up with the 42.5 pounds of equipment, I had the opportunity to talk with a few of the Special Olympics athletes that had questions for me about the gear, and some I recognized from the 2014 climb. As we lined up I got to talk with some of the students from Temple University that were out competing and volunteering at the climb and offer up some tips and hear why they were there.
When the timer told me to go I pulled my gloves on, hit my watch, and railed my way up the first flight in perfect rhythm. What I was off by in the first climb of the morning I sorted out and nailed a solid pace on this climb in fire gear. I grabbed water twice and kept going, I may have slowed, but never stopped. I met and encouraged or was encouraged by other climbers and volunteers, that really helps push a person along! Crossing the finish with a 15:18 I may not have medaled, but I walked away with my head held high and a 1:20 PR on this building. HUGE gains for me in Philly this year and I found a pace that is going to help my other climbs.
Its hard to believe that this climb has came and gone, and for me officially starts off the climb season. From now through May I will be in climb mode and working toward many goals.
Seriously this is a great and GROWING climb that makes a difference in lives. It is well ran, a great building, decent rehab area, and great people making things happen. Great water stops, plenty of water and snacks post race, and space to stretch out. If you are in PA or a state close by, definitely check this event out and add it to your list.
Are you “all in” – The PR at the Columbus Arts Festival 5k
The morning of the race didn’t start out right. In fact the events leading up to the race at the Columbus Arts Festival didn’t go quite how I wanted them too. It was a rough week at work, a messed up week of training, and the weather certainly was going to be against me that morning. The alarm clock somehow didn’t quite wake me as early as I wanted, but fortunately I had everything laid out so the rest went smoothly there. I got my food and hydration going so at least I had that altogether, and I’ll be honest the traffic was a breeze.
I pulled into my parking spot, paid my fee and walked toward registration. “We don’t take cards…” Really? Well crapola! Back to the truck and a very fast drive into downtown to hunt for an ATM machine. I don’t frequent downtown as much anymore, but I knew where there were banks. Darting from bank to bank I certainly got my warmup in as I found three machines that were out of order before finding the right one. Back across the river I went and got registered.
Warmed up now and hydrated where I felt like everything was normal, the sun really started to beat down and heat things up. We approached race time as I got stretched out in the shade and tried my best to get in the right mind for the task at hand. The starting line was steps in front of me as we started to fidget with out sports watches, fitness trackers, playlists, and get pumped up. There was no horn start, no countdown, no buzzer, just a go, and we were off. The first mile was a great one, in fact I was shocked as I watched the time tick and calculated in my mind where I was going.
The heat and humidity started to add up on me. The sinus infection I had gotten a little over a week and a half before was reminding me I wasn’t at 100 percent and It was kicking my ass. Mile 2 was really where the crazy stuff was going on and for the first time in awhile the mental game came into play. You can’t finish, just walk, stop, slow down, its hot just back down and finish. “Why are you doing this,” was blaring in the back of my mind to which I had to keep pulling inspiration from to keep going. Why, “because someone needs help, someone can’t do this, because if not who will, because I want to be better, I want to be stronger, and I want to reach my goals.”
“Keep going I’m right behind you,” the words spoken by FDNY Billy Burke, were the next words that hit my mind and I had a boost as I got into a section of the course and began to turn it up. “Don’t give up, don’t ever give up,” that Jimmy Valvano spoke years ago was the next thing that hit me like a load of bricks. The same week that Stuart Scott of ESPN SportsCenter spoke the Jimmy V quote again while receiving his ESPY award, I found out that my dad was battling cancer. Don’t give up I told myself. I pulled it together and used those thoughts to push me past the pain, shut out the doubt and make the push the to finish line. Almost in sight I knew the time was going to be close and I put out everything that I had as the tunnel vision started closing in. I had a long stride and laid into it hard as I kicked that foot with the timing chip on it over the line and collapsed in a heap on the concrete.
I can’t change how the morning went, the alarm, the ATM, or anything leading up to it, but what I can do is focus on the things that I can change. I can change my focus, push my mental blocks out, control my mind and tell my body what I want. What if I had stayed focused that entire race, what if I hadn’t lost it there for a short while? Was it a couple seconds, or was it more that it took from me? For me that morning it was a new 5k PR of 23:31 and seconds off my previous best from the fall of 2014, but it could have been better. I could have been all in. What could have happened if I was “all in” that morning, I will never know.
Are you “all in” with whatever the task is? Push hard, set goals, reach goals and then set new ones. Find your inspiration and make a difference!
So, as I’ve said for quite some time, FF4CURES is far more than just about one particular cure, and that “cures” can be for a variety of things and it is important to promote and encourage them all.
In this post I want to tackle a topic that I see a problem with in many, not all, but many firehouses and how we as firefighters need to get a handle on it. When was the last time you got your spouses, fiancé, girlfriends, children, and families as a whole together for a firehouse event? When did you last have a cookout and some games where they get to toss on some gear and get a little competitive? Perhaps the new guys might not have ever heard of such a thing or even seen it…Waterball? That’s something we’ve seen in those choppy VHS movies laying around, but never seen it done, right? The “cure” so to speak is out there, but I can’t say it’s going to be a comfortable move or something that everyone wants to do. Read a little about a recent experience that is changing lives and going to make a difference in houses everywhere.
The wife and I had the opportunity to be a part of FlameFest 2015 in Glade Springs, WVA, about two weeks ago. Yes, leave all the funny jokes about the name alone, we’ve heard them all and I’m sure came up with a few more amongst the tables when it came up in discussion at the event. Yes, the name is being changed, but I’m not privy to the new name yet…
FlameFest is an event by FirefighterWife.com and made possible through many sponsors who did one heck of a job putting it together. Marriage topics, communication topics, bonding, financial planning (from people with fire service background), massage, firefighter behavioral health, fitness, funeral planning, and much more were discussed.
Now keep in mind those were just the planned topics and not what the many couples and small groups were talking about in their free time around the campfire, on the patio, on the porch, and elsewhere. The entire event was full of communication, fun, and a great time. Honestly if I were to do a recap of the entire weekend, I would be typing for a few days. Instead what I’m going to do is tackle a few selective topics hopefully over the next month or so and go from there.
One of the exciting and hands-on events at FlameFest was the touch-a-truck event. This had the look and feel of a family fun day, except just with spouses that culminated in an evening cookout and live music. The day event was possible through work by Rhett Fleitz (TheFireCritic.com) with assistance by Willie Wines Jr. (IronFiremen.com), local F.O.O.L.S. chapters (Appalachian F.O.O.L.S., Valley of the F.O.O.L.S.), Beckley Fire Department, Beaver Fire Department, and Coal City Fire Department. Yeah yeah I know what you’re thinking, why is this any fun for the spouses if the guys are just going to be around fire trucks? The answer is that the event was for the ladies (and could easily be adaptable to families!) The afternoon long event put them in touch with a variety of trucks onsite to work around and check out. Then there were several stations (forcible entry, wall breaching, and hoseline deployment) not to mention the fact that they could do it in gear, masked up, and on air if they chose to. Sound fun, they thought so!?
There was a parking lot full of couples with apparatus setup and obstacles constantly in use. Firefighters constantly in motion as they watched, helped, and talked their spouses through the events. No there wasn’t shouting, no this wasn’t forced, and no this wasn’t an awkward event whatsoever, this was perhaps a phenomenon that you just had to witness to believe. Going on 16 years in the fire service (and everyday learning the trade) I can tell you that these “fire wives” break stereotypes that you hear, as did their fire husbands. I will go as far as saying these wives are the 1-percenters that are out there. Call us whatever you want, (because several of us have already caught crap about attending such an event), but Firefighter Salty McSalterson isn’t the one that’s going to grow old with you. He’s not taking the kids to practice, packing your lunch, handling the birthday party when you leave on a run, nor is he working and contributing financially. The list goes on.
We firefighters are quick to order pizza after that run or that training; grab some beers and throw a small party after a job. We are accustomed to celebrate the holidays, celebrate retirements, and celebrate building brotherhood, but even at that we still aren’t ordering those “Big Ass Cakes” to celebrate the moments that we need to cherish. Even more troubling, we aren’t celebrating and involving those who are our biggest support systems or who “allow” us the ability to pursue our calling. We have withdrawn from our support systems at home and the ones that are going to be there long after we hop off the rig.
It doesn’t have to be big or elaborate if you haven’t done this in awhile. The biggest hurdle might not be getting the food cooked, but rather getting the involvement from your members to have some fun with it. This doesn’t require an “email or memo” to go out, this requires something we suck at…some verbal communication. Don’t text people to break this idea out to the membership, bring it up at a meeting or training. Put a poster up at the firehouse and set a date, maybe even send some invitations out addressed to the family (a piece of letter head signed by the Chief is not what I’m suggesting here…) be creative, because its going to be more meaningful.
The meal doesn’t need to be a steak dinner, it can be as simple as hot dogs, burgers, or some chicken and some sides. Get your association or auxiliary (theres something the younger guys don’t often know about) and see if they will provide the main dish. Pass a signup around and get people to bring something and share the load.
Drag out some corn hole boards and maybe have a kickball game at the park. Have some clean gear around and spray some water. If you have the luxury of a forcible entry simulator, bring it, and make sure you can keep it going for awhile because if you think we firefighters can challenge each other, you haven’t seen anything until the wives start challenging husbands and challenge each other. The important thing is to have something to do before and after the meal to keep people engaged. How many of your kids know what your fire gear is like and get/give the tours around the firehouse (lots of people saying of course)? Now, how many have your spouses, fiancé’s or girlfriends gotten that same tour, tried on the gear, masked up, or maybe even went through the SCBA maze? No hands up? WHY NOT? Has it even crossed our minds that they even remotely might be interested in what takes you away from them? No I’m not saying that this is going to be a recruiting event by any means, but some of the comments you will hear from them are priceless and going to be very meaningful.
What you’re going to see is not only are the couples building better relationships, but you’re going to see wives and families building better relationships with each other, kids knowing each other more, and being a much larger support system that’s going to have each others back when the times are tough.
Bring back the family, bring back traditions, or maybe in some houses you need to start some traditions. These aren’t new concepts or new culture that we need to approve and send up the chain, these are concepts that we are going to find pay huge dividends on those long shifts, long calls, rough nights, ruined holidays, and when your family is in trouble.
We our “our brothers keeper,” and after being a part of the FirefighterWife event, those ladies truly are, “their sisters keeper,” and I am pleased to see exist. They are making a mark and taking the nation by storm. Make sure that in your houses that you are providing ways to support this and make it happen.
What a weekend that it was in New York City for the inaugural Tunnel to Towers Climb up One World Trade Center. It was of no surprise that I was going to come away from it changed and full of emotion, but had no idea just to the extent. The work that the Tunnel to Towers Foundation and the Siller and Burke families do is amazing and absolutely I had to support it. The event helped raise money to build adaptive homes for our most catastrophically injured servicemen and servicewomen that are coming back from war.
Since this was announced with so little lead time after another major event of mine, the amount of time to logistically be ready was limited. As much as I would have loved to stay longer, I crammed a lot into the two-day weekend in the Big Apple. For those of you just picking up on this story, the Tunnel to Towers Climb was a timed race up 1WTC 90 floors, 1970 steps as a fundraiser for the foundation. This was the first ever event to be held at the “Freedom Tower” and a rebirth of the area down around ground zero.
I landed in Newark and managed to clumsily make my way over to the city, a little shaky with navigating some areas, but managed to find some extremely helpful NYPD officers that got me directed where I needed to go. This is something that continued through the weekend, hospitality, some of the finest that I have seen, and it was extended often. Spent plenty of time walking on the first day, and safe to say that my legs were well warmed up for the climb.
It’s one thing to participate in events like these such as the climb, but it is another to share it with a friend. I met up with Dennis, Sunland Park F.D. and New Mexico Task Force One, who climbed out in Seattle for the L&LS climb back in March. Logistics wise Dennis was spot on with the hotel he found in the financial district and it definitely helps to split costs on these big trips. Talking back and forth since before Seattle, I knew Dennis “gets it,” and I saw some of that back in March, but it shined in NYC. I met up with Dennis and our plans pretty well matched, we hit a local pizza shop for some authentic cuisine, we picked up race packets, and the first day spent most of it on the move. From firehouses, to museums, to stores, to just doing everyday touristy things we were busy.
If you’re in New York City, see the 9/11 Memorial Museum, and the Memorial. I mean I guess that goes without saying, but do it, take the time, plan to allow PLENTY of time and soak it in. Get your tickets online ahead of time because they sell timeslots and you can get in faster than if you do will call there. I won’t spoil your trip and tell you too much about the exhibits and what you will experience, but its very moving. We left the museum, after mingling with other firefighters and task force members that were in town for training, and we headed to the memorial. Now to this point I’ve only seen video and photos of the reflecting pools and in those they didn’t look that massive, but they are. The sound of water emanating and echoing in the air from it continuously falling, and the bronze panels with names that seem massive really hit you. Seeing that many names and the sheer size of the attack on our people that day took my breath away a little because of the space that this takes up. We left and again looked for some local food for the night before the race meal and then to rest up for the climb.
Sunday morning we started out with a ceremony that I will never forget and will be one that is hard for an event to top. Walking up to the event in the morning the air was filled with pipes and drums, the sounds of honor guards drilling, and sound tests with piano and voice. From a distance I thought maybe they secured Billy Joel. Dennis and I spent the time before the ceremony talking with others that were climbing and what motivated them for this climb. To hear family of our fallen speak, and hear those that were in the towers that day was very touching to just listen to their accounts.
We opened the morning with Daniel Rodriguez (Ret. NYPD and New York Tenor) singing the Star Spangled banner. Keep in mind we are literally in what you could call the shadows of WTC hearing our National Anthem echo and flow through the city, the hallowed ground where so many were lost. I’m no ashamed to admit it was one of many times I was moved to tears that day. As the ceremony started we had the best spot in the house I think. I was up front, and Dennis was just a little back and to my left. You’ll probably see him in some of the event videos from the media because he’s head and shoulders above most people….literally. All kidding aside, the only thing that can surpass Dennis’ height is the size of his heart and love of what he’s doing. He’s already talking about the “next one”, the “next race,” and getting into the cause.
To hear the speeches, the rebirth of the neighborhood, and to get a feel of just what the Sunday event might be for a lot of people, including the families of those affected was beyond touching. The level of patriotism in this ceremony and the day was phenomenal. To hear Frank Siller talk about the building, the “V”, and the “Victory” of those running up the stairs set the stage for the race. The sacrifices, the memories, and just what we were doing filled the crowd with energy, he emanates positive energy and greatness and I got chills with his statements before turning over the stage to the Three Tenors who just kept the level of emotions on edge.
Mike Burke, Brother of Captain Billy Burke took the stage next and he opened with how they really got this event at WTC started before he got into the story of his brother. The story of his brother staying with the civilians until the end and encouraging his men to “keep going, I’m right behind you,” in order to get all of his men out. He stayed with a quadriplegic and his friend, ultimately giving his all when the tower collapsed.
Johnny Poppo and his daughter Giana performed the song “Running In,” that he wrote shortly after 9/11. An incredibly moving song, again, more chills, more tears, and got me to the core before taking to the steps in competition. Definitely worth a listen, its on the ceremony video that I captured on Sunday. I knew from listening to them that John was quite talented, but it wasn’t until Sunday night that I found more information about him and his musical talent over the years as a producer and 30 year veteran of the music industry. Wow!!! The ceremony was finished off with Rodriguez singing America the Beautiful, followed by the Pipes and Drums playing a verse.
The climb, well I’ll talk about that in my next piece, but needless to say 90 floors up was quite the race. I finished with a 20:11 and VERY happy with that. The 90th floor we were met with a crowd of people at the finish and were able to not only enjoy the view, but sign the concrete wall and be a part of 1WTC. The trip to the 64th for the after party was nice to hydrate a little more and get some calories to pep back up after putting it all out in the stairwells.
Before we left the area Dennis and I stopped over at the memorial and we took some photos with medals by Siller and Burke, along with recapping the event a little with other competitors.
We headed back to change and take on the city once again. Did I mention that we spent some time at firehouses while we were there? You can’t travel without finding some and we found them full of hospitality, brotherhood, and welcomed with open arms. Engine 4/Ladder 15 and then Rescue 1 a little later in the afternoon, and I both a great experience talking and learning from them. I love fire history, love the job, and to get to spend time this way just added to the weekend. To hear newer guys to the job out of the academy talking history of their house, their truck, their crew is some true pride. To hear it from the more veteran guys as well and get to learn more first hand, wow.
In the evening we parted ways and I headed back to the airport, tired, but still beaming with what we had seen accomplished this weekend. I must have watched the morning video a dozen times. I came away from New York with a new revived sense as an American, a firefighter, and for the works that I am involved with. This was a weekend and an event that I will never forget for our Brothers that we WILL NEVER FORGET.
God bless all that were involved, and God bless the United States of America.