For the second year in a row, multiple agencies across Iowa will complete the “CLIMB for 9/11,” a private invite to climb more than 300 stairs at the VERIBO Nevada LLC in honor of lives lost during the 9/11 attacks.
“This has impacted a lot of people, and still to this day does,” said Fire Chief Ray Reynolds of the Nevada Fire Department. “For those folks, they have 5,000 deaths due to cancer on the fire department and police department in New York.”
Reynolds added that he doesn’t think “a lot of people realize that something that happened so long ago is still having an impact today.”
The climb at VERBIO, which reaches 232 feet in the air, is nearly one-seventh of the original towers’ heights. Last year, a few participants climbed up and down six times to honor the 343 firefighters who climbed the twin towers while wearing full gear and lost their lives, Reynolds said.
“Our folks after the third leg were stripping down to gym shorts and t-shirts, so it kind of puts it into perspective the level of fitness and the heroics that were actually involved on the 9/11 day,” Reynolds said.
This year, the private climb event anticipates a crowd of 70 from 12 different agencies representing police, military and fire personnel.
“I think it’s important that we as a fire service never forget,” Reynolds said. “Its one of the largest losses in the fire service in our history, and so I think it’s important to remember.”
Last year, while VERBIO was under construction and had an empty tower, Reynolds inquired about potentially completing the climb as it “seemed like the perfect venue.”
“We also are extremely fortunate to have an extremely large flag; we have a 20-by-30 foot American flag that we hang on the ladder truck, and it just sets the tone,” Reynolds said.
Though Reynolds is anticipating more participants this year, a few changes have been made to the private event as a result of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.
“We’re going to social distance and time their climb up so that not everybody goes at the same time,” Reynolds said. “They’re actually going up on the south tower, will go to the top, and go down to the north tower. I think we’re taking good precautions for our folks and people are aware of what they’re doing.”
Reynolds also shared that instead of each department bringing a “picnic-style lunch,” a food truck vendor, Chicago Treats, will be onsite for those involved.
“It’s always special to have everybody take part in it,” Reynolds said.
Though Friday’s climb is closed to the public, the Nevada fire department will hold a public, silent memorial from 9 p.m. to 10 p.m. at the fire station on Friday where they will showcase a piece of steel from the World Trade Center Towers.
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