The 9/11 Memorial Stair Climb in Wichita holds special meaning for Pratt participants.
Five City of Pratt Fire Department crew members joined firefighters and rescue personnel from across the state last Saturday for the Fifth Annual 9/11 Memorial Stair Climb at Epic Center in downtown Wichita.
Captain Todd Hoffman, Captain Dan Decker, Lt. Chad VanSlyke and firefighters Alex Veatch and Josh Stahl were among more than 343 registrants who climbed 110 floors outfitted in full rescue gear in honor of the 343 New York City Fire Department members who lost their lives trying to rescue people from the twin World Trade Center towers in New York that were hit by terrorists who had taken over American jets.
“We do this so as not to forget those who lost their lives. Our department has gone every year,” said Hoffman. “There were 110 stories in the World Trade Center. We finished the climb for them.”
To climb 110 flights in a building that has 20 floors, the climbers started on the first floor and climbed to the 20th floor.
“Then we took the elevator down to the first floor and climbed four more times to the top. On the sixth set, we climbed to the 10th floor and rode the elevator back to ground level,” Hoffman said.
Each participant climbed for an identified member of the NYPD rescue personnel who died in action, according to Hoffman. The Pratt group was joined for their climb by Bob Roesky of the Coffeyville Fire Department.
Van Slyke climbed for Lincoln Quappe, Rescue 1; Beatch climbed for Michael Pagusa, Engine 279; Roesky climbed for Thomas H. Hannafin, Ladder 5; Stahl climbed for Brooklyn Chief Edward F. Geraghty, Battalion 9; Decker climbed for Steven Coakley, Engine 217; Hoffman climbed for Capt. William S. O’Keefe, Division 15.
“We each carried a name badge with the brother’s picture,” Hoffman said. “It was a very meaningful experience.”
Hoffman said the Pratt crew completed their climb in an hour and 40 minutes and had opportunity to spend time with other climbers and renew acquaintances.
The Wichita 9/11 Memorial Stair Climb is a sanctioned event of the not-for-profit Association of Memorial Stair Climbs. Proceeds above expenses for the event benefit the FDNY Fire Family Transport Foundation.