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Pittsburg fireman climbs in memory of fallen 9/11 FDNY fireman - KOAM TV 7

Pittsburg fireman climbs in memory of fallen 9/11 FDNY fireman

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PITTSBURG, KANSAS -

Pittsburg Fire Department relief driver William Holt was a fifth-grader in Girard on September 11, 2001.

This weekend, Holt climbed Wichita Epic Center's 110 flights of stairs, the same amount as in the World Trade Centers, in memory of a fallen brother. As part of the stair climb, Holt wore fallen FDNY fireman Paul Tegtmeier's picture on his air pack. Photos of the 343 fallen firefighters dotted the stairwell of the Epic Center.

"As you're walking and you get a little bit tired, you take a look to your left or your right, and it's pretty hard to not keep going. Knowing that those guys were climbing as quick as they could, not knowing the outcome," Holt said.

Holt wanted to make the experience more personal, so he reached out to Paul Tegtmeier's son, Aric Tegtmeier, who is currently in school in Maryland to become a firefighter.

"First and foremost, I thought it would be appropriate to not ask for permission, but to get his blessing to climb for his dad," Holt said.

The two kept in contact and remain close. 

"For him to tell me that it makes him feel good and he's honored that I am climbing for his dad he wouldn't want anybody else climbing for his dad, that makes it pretty special," Holt said.

Each year on 9/11, Holt listens to the radio transmissions from that day. He assures Aric Tegtmeier that the two will meet one day and "raise a glass to his dad".

"He told me, you know man I lost my dad that day, but I gained hundreds of dads. There wasn't a time that there wasn't a firetruck at his house the weeks after. He went to the firehouse in New York all the time. There was that support that kept him strong," Holt said.

Proceeds from the stair climbs taking place across the nation benefit the FDNY Family Transport program, a program that provides transportation to and from medical appointments and treatments for firefighters in their "greatest time of need". Many first responders in NYC are suffering from illnesses and ailments from the clean-up process and bad air inhaled in the aftermath of 9/11.

"Unfortunately there's still firefighter funerals to this day, from 9/11 and I think that's something that people forget is that yes they did lose 343 but we're losing more firefighters at an alarming rate," Holt said.

This was Holt's second year doing the stair climb. Fellow Pittsburg fireman Richard Jett also climbed.

For more on the FDNY family transport program, visit: http://www.firefamilytransport.org/

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