Dressed in full bunker gear, Nathan Moffat and Joe Thompson pushed themselves to ascend 220 floors on a stair climber machine at Napanee’s Planet Fitness on Friday afternoon.
The gruelling exercise was a symbolic one, honouring the 343 New York City Fire Department firefighters who lost their lives 19 years to the day while attempting to rescue people trapped in the burning World Trade Centre towers. The 220 floors represent the amount of floors inside the World Trade Centre-110 up, 110 down. Tragically, many of the first responders that day never did make it out before the building collapsed.
The anniversary of the 9/11 attack is a meaningful one for both men, as Thompson is a member of the Greater Napanee Emergency Services Fire Department while Moffat is with the Stone Mills Fire Department.
“Our figuring right now, they were going up, eventually they would have to go back down,” said Thompson. “So Nate and I have decided we’re going to do 220 flights to complete the task.”
Though neither of them knew any of those who perished personally, it was still important to them that they honour their memory.
“It affected everybody and it still does to this day,” said Thompson. “There’s still firefighters that were on scene that are still re-living everything and now have other issues because of the dust and that sort of thing.”
Moffat came up with the idea and approached Planet Fitness about doing something to commemorate the date.
“This was just my way of doing something to honour them,” said Moffat.
The Napanee gym gladly agreed to grant use of their equipment, even going so far as to donate $500 to the GNES and Stone Mills’ Fire Fit teams. Napanee’s Planet Fitness general manager Kim Traill presented the duo with a cheque before they embarked on their challenge.
All told it was expected to take about an hour to complete the steps, with the added challenge of doing it in 100 pounds of gear.
Earlier in the day GNES’ Kevin Duncan and Tanya McCullough also did a stair climb in memory of fallen firefighters.
Later this evening around 6 p.m. the Napanee station plans to do a series of exercises in memory of each of the 343 firefighters who died on this day.
“The 343 is basically seven exercises, seven reps and seven sets, which works out to 343,” said Duncan.
Though he too had no personal connection to any of the 343 who lost their lives, the fact that they were fellow firefighters was enough to want to do something in their memory.
First responders across the world also took part in similar gestures as the world marked the 19 year anniversary the deadliest terrorist attack in recorded history.