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Step by step, a climb to honor firefighters lost on 9/11

Published: Sep. 11, 2021 at 4:26 PM EDT
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LOWVILLE, New York (WWNY) - Step by step, and floor by floor.

Four Lewis County firefighters honored the 343 firefighters that lost their lives in the World Trade Center by climbing 110 flights of stairs- one for each floor in the towers. All of them were wearing full turnout gear.

“I can’t imagine what those gentlemen went through 20 years ago, knowing that they were running into certain death,” said Lowville firefighter Benjamin Lyndaker.

Lyndaker organized the event, and he took it to another level. He opted to carry two spare air packs and a hose weighing more than 100 pounds altogether. He says his goal was to put himself in the boots of those firefighters on 9/11.

“I thought I would get to, like, 45 flights, piece of cake before I broke down, and I got to 12.”

Lyndaker eventually dropped the hose and the extra air packs after more than 40 flights. Glenfield Fire Department Captain Chad Kraeger climbed the stairs too. He was a freshman in high school 20 years ago. It ended up changing his life.

“Until that day, I never thought I’d join the military,” Kraeger said. “And when I watched that happen, I obviously stood up.”

Kraeger joined the military after graduating a few years later, and was fighting in Baghdad within a couple of months. For Lyndaker, it was about the firefighters, who he believes knew their fate as they entered the towers.

“Yeah they definitely knew. Without a doubt. Without a doubt,” Lyndaker said.

It took the firefighters a little more than an hour to climb the 110 stories. By the end, faces were beat red and shirts were dripping wet. But it was for a good cause. The group raised some money for their efforts. Half will go to the National Fallen Firefighters Foundation, with the other half going to local fire departments.

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