Kathy Stewart, wtop.com
WASHINGTON - As the nation approaches the 11th anniversary of Sept. 11 on Tuesday, a unique tribute was held Saturday for the 343 firefighters who died on that infamous day in New York City.
Some 60 local firefighters, family members and others, including employees of the Gaylord National Resort, climbed 110 flights of stairs Saturday morning. It was a way to honor and remember the fallen. They climbed the 10-story building 11 times.
Prince George's Fire and EMS spokesman Mark Brady says this is the second year they're doing the stair climb.
"This is so we can never forget the sacrifices that 343 firefighters made that day," he says, adding that the 110 floors reflect the height of the World Trade Center.
The Gaylord National Resort at National Harbor hosted the climb, which was held by Prince George's County Fire and EMS.
"This is a series of stair climbs, they're called stair climbs because literally what we are doing is climbing stairs to memorialize the 343 firefighters," Fire Chief Marc Bashoor says.
Thirty similar stair climbs are taking place across the country this week with donations raised going to the National Fallen Firefighters Foundation.
"It's the least we can do to raise funds for fallen firefighters across the country," Bashoor says.
Firefighters were here from Prince George's and Montgomery counties, Joint Base Andrews and Cockeysville near Baltimore. Some wore full gear as they took to the stairs.
It's the third climb for Montgomery County firefighter Todd Paules, who says he was one of the last people to register for an April climb in D.C. There were just 11 tags remaining, each with a picture and the name of a firefighter who died on Sept. 11.
"I asked if I could take them all, because I didn't want to leave anybody behind," he says.
The organizers said yes, so he climbed in honor of all 11 people.
In June he and his girlfriend went to the Sept. 11 memorial in New York. He looked for some of those names at the reflecting pool.
That's when he ran into the mother of one of the fallen.
"The lady said yeah that was my son," Paules says as his voice cracks. "It was an honor to see her and tell her I climbed for her son."
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(Copyright 2012 by WTOP. All Rights Reserved.)
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