Wayne Township Volunteer Fire Rescue (WTVFR) will once again participate with a team in the Columbus 9/11 Memorial Stair Climb and Walk — making this the seventh year they have taken part in the event.
The annual stair climb is set to happen on Saturday, Sept. 11 at Fortress Obetz, 2015 Recreational Trail in Obetz, Ohio. Onsite registration will begin at 8 a.m., the opening ceremony at 8:45 a.m., and the climb at 9 a.m. with an end time of 1 p.m.
According to Wayne Township Fire Chief Chris Wysong, participants from all around Ohio and neighboring states come together for this event.
For the last several years, the local team continued to grow from an original nine members in 2015 to 60 members in 2020. Last year however, there were only 37 members. For this year, there are currently 18 members.
Participants have a few options for taking part in the event.
The first option is they can climb with a badge displaying the photo and name of a fallen hero. Climbers will announce those names after completing their climb and ringing a bell. The design of this event is to climb 110 flights of stairs representing the height of the twin towers.
Through the years, 158 badges of the fallen heroes have been collected and displayed on the firehouse walls — badges that were worn by team members as they climbed during past events.
“We have a goal to climb for all the fallen firefighters of 9/11,” wrote Wysong via email.
A second option, for those who can’t climb stairs, is to walk on a track that is present.
According to a social media post from WTVFR, there is no one to track the start and finish on the stairs or the track. So, participants can climb 10 or 110 flights, or walk one or 50 laps.
A third option, if the event can’t be made, is to donate through the team page.
Funds raised during the event support the services provided to families of fallen firefighters by the National Fallen Firefighters Foundation (NFFF), according to Wysong.
“Last year, our team raised $2,470. Our goal this year is to raise $1,000, but beating our previous year’s funds raised is a personal goal,” he wrote.
As of Tuesday morning, the local team had raised $821.20.
Wysong explained, “the 9/11 Stair climb is more important than a great fundraiser for the National Fallen Firefighter Foundation (NFFF). I was preparing to graduate from Army Basic Combat Training (BCT) when the attacks occurred (graduated Sept. 13, 01). I was deployed to Iraq in 2004 for Operation Iraqi Freedom II, where our unit suffered multiple Soldiers injured in combat and two fatalities. War is not like we see in the movies and is hard to explain. But I learned to not take so much for granted and look for ways to influence others positively. As a firefighter for our community, I learned of this event and wanted to help make it successful here in our state. The NFFF is a great foundation that provides much-needed support to firefighters and families that sacrificed so much for their community.”
Wysong has been mobilized to Europe since Dec. 20 but is “coordinating locally in Germany to conduct the climb as part of the team.”
Reach journalist Jennifer Woods at 740-313-0355.