Jake Usry / The Bison
Firemen Ben Neff climbed 220 stories Saturday for the OKC 9/11 Memorial Stair Climb. After completing his task, he rang the bell and place the names of the fallen firefighters on the accountability board.
Assistant News Editor
Fireman Ben Neff climbed a total of 220 stories last Saturday in downtown Oklahoma City.
The OKC 9/11 Memorial Stair Climb is an annual event hosted at Chase Tower where fire fighters from around the state come to climb 110 stories in memoriam of the FDNY (Fire Department of New York) first responders who died during the September 11th attacks.
Each participating fireman has to wear their full gear (close to 75 pounds) and is given a lanyard with the picture and name of an FDNY member who lost his or her
life that fateful day.
At the end of the climb,
firemen place the names of the fallen on an “accountability” board and ring a ceremonial bell.
However, Neff was given two lanyards so he decided to ring the bell twice, climbing 220 stories.
“We registered 404 people but obviously some people don’t show up,” said event coordinator and eight-year event participant John Linley.
“So what we do before everyone starts the climb is if any of the lanyards are left over, we hand out that second lanyard to somebody… the gentleman (Neff) is doing 220 flights of stairs which is remarkable.”
Linley then went on to ex-
plain that it was also Neff’s choice to do all the stairs in one day instead of possibly splitting it up between two or possibly three days.
“His thought process when I talked to him was ‘hey, you gave me two lanyards…so I’ m gonna climb for two people,” said Linley.
“So he did the 110 [stories], rang the bell one time, put that name up on the account- ability board and then in his mind said ‘I’ve done one now I’ m gonna do it again.”
After finishing the last step of his 220 story climb, Neff put the second name on the accountability board then got on one knee and rang the bell.
“They [both of the fall- en firefighters] deserve to be honored individually so I
climbed for each firefighter respectively,” Neff said.
“I’ve been part of this stair climb from the beginning (eight years ago) and I’ve climbed for six years…it’s [9/11] part of our culture and [we should] never forget the ultimate sacrifice.”
Neff then explained that this familial respect is ingrained in the family that is first responders, not just firefighters, but EMS and police as well. He then went on to say that there are first responders who lose their lives each and every day so he climbs for them as well.
“I think it’s imperative that organizations and events like this continue,” Neff said.
“And it’s a blessing that they have multiplied across
the country because part of the ‘never forget’ culture is that you should never forget the persons that have made the ultimate sacrifice in the line of duty both during 9/11 and other areas.”
Neff said he volunteered to represent both of the names and felt that if he hadn’t climbed for both names, he would’ve done either one or both a disservice.
“As we go through our daily lives people get caught up with who is running for president, which celebrity is dating who…they forget the things that matter and events like these remind people who might forget, that these per- sons did make the ultimate sacrifice.”