Nebraska stair climb honors firefighters killed on 9/11


PAPILLION, Neb. (AP) — More than 100 people in Nebraska have participated in a memorial stair climb to honor firefighters who died trying to rescue victims of 9/11.

Firefighters, law enforcement officers and civilians of all ages ascended the inaugural Nebraska 9/11 Memorial Stair Climb on Saturday at Werner Park. Many first-responders dressed in full fire or SWAT gear while carrying oxygen tanks and other equipment, the Omaha World-Herald reported .

Several climbers said their efforts at the stadium don't compare to the sacrifices of the nearly 350 firefighters being honored.

"All the people at 9/11 gave their all," said Sarpy County Deputy David Coombs, who participated in the climb. "We've just given a little bit."

Those who preregistered for the climb in Sarpy County wore "honor badges" with the name, photo and fire company of a firefighter who died in the 2001 attack. When participants completed the climb, they said the name of the victim into a microphone and rang a bell.

Firefighters at Offutt Air Force Base have held smaller version of the climb for three years, but participation was limited due to the small venue, said Matt Gibbons, an event organizer and firefighter at the base.

The public event Saturday drew firefighters and law enforcement officers from Bennington, Ralston, Papillion, Offutt, Kearney, La Vista and Sarpy counties in Nebraska, as well as from Council Bluffs, Iowa. Metro Community College also brought a team of more than 30 firefighters in training, students in the school's firefighting classes.

Gibbons said the event raised nearly $5,800 for the National Fallen Firefighters Foundation.

Bennet volunteer firefighter Jared Meiergerd said he was in eighth grade at the time of the attack. He said that as he climbed the stairs Saturday he thought about the men and women who died that day as well as the emotion they felt climbing the World Trade Center stairs.

"I can't even fathom it," Meiergerd said.

The climb was among 15 memorial climbs held that day across the country and among more than 30 that'll be held through Monday, which is the 16th anniversary of the Sept. 11, 2001, terror attack.

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