ND 9/11 memorial stair climb attracts more than 85 participants

Sep 11, 2017

Firefighters at the state Capitol await their call to start the stair climb.
Credit Dave Thompson / Prairie Public

More than 85 firefighters, police officers and others participated in the North Dakota 9-11 Memorial Stair Climb – held at the state Capitol.

"The 9-11 stair climbs are nation-wide events, designed to commemorate the responders in New York City who climbed 110 stories of the World Trade Center," said Mandan firefighter Andrew Beck, one of the event's organizers. "It's a common thing for firefighters to climb stairs into a building where there is a problem and try to rescue people. And that's exactly what they did."

Beck says the participants would have to climb the Capitol’s steps from the ground floor to the 18th floor observation deck between 6 and 7 times – to symbolize the 110 floors of the World Trade Center.

"It's a lot of work," Beck said. "Definitely by the end of it, you'd know you were climbing stairs. For sure."

Ryan Marthaller is a volunteer firefighter from Oakes. It’s his second time participating in the climb.

"The first time I did it, it almost killed me," Marthaller said. "But I learned my lesson, and I'm taking it a little slowly. I brought my son with me, and we're just going to have fun."

Matt Hennessy is also with the Mandan Fire Department.

"It's hot in there (the Capitol stairwell)," Hennessy said. "My legs are burning."

But Hennessy said you just work your way through it.

"You can't quit," Hennessy said. "Last year I almost quit, and a friend told me I couldn't. And it feels good when you're done."

Hennessy said it's a great way to pay tribute to the first responders in 9-11.

"They didn't know what was going to happen that day," Hennessy said. "It means a lot to do it."

Marthaller agreed it is important to participate.
"You still get a part of what they went through by doing this," Marthaller said. "All those lives lost, and the kids who grew up that didn't have a family -- it means a lot."

343 members of the New York City fire department lost their lives on 9-11. The climb is also a fundraiser – with money collected going to support the families of the nation’s fallen firefighters.