Three hundred forty-three firefighters who died on 9/11 were honored Sunday by 343 Texas firefighters. They climbed 55 floors of the Renaissance Tower in downtown Dallas twice to represent the 110 floors of the World Trade Center.
"I feel sorry for the families, and we're here to support them and all the firefighters in New York," said Mark Bond, with The Colony Fire Department.
In honor of the New York firefighters who rushed to the twin towers after the Sept. 11 attacks, firefighters from across Texas wore the name and photo of the fallen FDNY firefighter they represented at the Dallas Stair Climb.
"Definitely thinking about what they might have gone through that day," said Capt. Noel Saldivar, of Richardson Fire Department. "Keithroy Maynard was on Engine 33 and responded, one of the first companies to respond to the towers."
Thomas Elizondo, of South Hays Fire-Rescue, wore the name tag representing Michael Fiore of Rescue 5. "It took quite an amount of courage and bravery, and it's an honor to climb in his place today," he said.
The firefighters started climbing the stairs at 8:46 a.m., the moment the first plane hit the World Trade Center.
Each wore full uniform, with heavy equipment and went in with their company and supported each other just like the firefighters did on 9/11.
"It was a whole lot hotter and definitely a lot more chaotic when they were doing it," said one firefighter as he rested between floors.
In memory of the moment the south tower fell at 9:59 a.m., the firefighters sounded their distress alarms.
The sheer exhaustion was visible on their faces, but everyone pushed on, remembering the reason. "We can never forget this 'cause if we forget, then we'll lose ourselves," said Elizondo.
People made pledges to sponsor the firefighters who made the climb. The money collected will go to three charities, the National Fallen Firefighters Foundation, The Texas Line of Duty Death Task Force and the Twin Towers Orphan Fund.