From the City of Apopka
A team of nine City of Apopka firefighters and one police officer will travel to New York this week for a memorial competition to honor the 343 firefighters who died at the World Trade Center site on Sept. 11, 2001.
The second annual New York City Firefighter Stair Climb on Sunday, March 13, will bring together professional firefighters from as far away as New Zealand to ascend 72 floors of 4 World Trade Center – one of the newly constructed buildings surrounding the memorial site. Each participant will represent a fallen NYC firefighter and will make the challenging climb in full firefighting gear with an air mask and tank.
“My uncle worked for FDNY – he died three months prior to 9-11 and his crew was lost in 9-11,” said Apopka Firefighter Chris Lenahan. This event “ties us all together, because firefighters are really one big family that supports each other.”
The New York City Firefighter Stair Climb is a memorial event and a fundraiser for Team RWB –a non-profit group that supports veterans through physical and social activity.
Lenahan will climb with fellow Apopka firefighters Dylan Spencer, Zeynel Alvarado, Cody Minchey, Jerry Maynard, Antonio Batista and Donald Klouse. They will be joined on their trip by firefighters Matt Yoham and Todd Bengtson. Apopka police Officer Stephen Minchey also will provide support for the climbers.
The firefighters have trained for weeks to prepare for the New York event. Many of them practiced at the 28-floor Bank of America Financial Center in downtown Orlando. All are paying their own travel and costs for the event, which also will include a tour of the 9-11 museum and an awards ceremony for the climbers.
“This means a lot to me because I am originally from New Jersey,” said firefighter Antonio Batista, who was a freshman student attending Spanish class at Orlando’s Oak Ridge High School the morning of Sept. 11, 2001. He competed in a 5K memorial race in New York last year, but he said Sunday’s stair climb likely will be more difficult.
“It is going to be tough for sure,” Batista explained.
The Apopka Fire Department is rated by ISO as a Class 1 department, which ranks among the top .09% of the country. Apopka has 75 full-time firefighters and an administrative staff of 8.
The City of Apopka is a growing area ideally located 13 miles northwest of Orlando with major roadway access to many parts of Central Florida. The hometown community has more than 45,000 residents across 33 square miles and includes a diverse mix of business development.