At 5:30 a.m. on Wednesday, Sept. 11, over 250 men gathered for the fourth annual 110-flight stair climb at Carter-Finley Stadium to honor the first responders who risked or lost their lives during the terrorist attack on the World Trade Center in 2001. The event was hosted by F3 Raleigh, and participants were F3 members from the Raleigh region and surrounding areas.
F3 is a national men's peer-led daily fitness group which encourages community leadership and service among its members, according to Brian Jodice, member of F3 Carpex (Cary/Apex).
“The mission of F3 is to plant, grow and serve small, male workout groups for the invigoration of small community leadership,” Jodice said. “We are simply just a free male workout group, but it's a little bit more than that; obviously we are about community service, giving back to our community.”
The climb was meant to resemble the climb of those who responded on 9/11/2001. Participants split themselves between the four stairwells in groups of up to 60 men and scaled the stairs eleven times, matching the 110 flights of the World Trade Center.
“That number is very significant,” Jodice said. “It's the reason why we do eleven trips. The 110 flights of stairs signify that same number that folks would have jumped into harm's way and climbed to save their fellow Americans.”
Some participants even wore weighted backpacks or carried fire hoses, loaned to F3 by the Cary and Apex fire departments, to further emulate the experience of the first responders, according to Jodice.
Mark Mahoney, a member of F3 raleigh, said having the opportunity to participate in this event was extremely meaningful for him in remembering a catastrophic event which shook U.S. history.
“To be able to emulate that even in a small way, I had to be here today,” Mahoney said. “Thinking about how hot it was in that stairwell [today] and knowing it was 150 degrees hotter, and there were flames and smoke and everything else, it's just something small we can to do to never forget.”
According to Jodice, the stair climb used to be held at Crabtree Valley Mall but has been held at Carter-Finley Stadium for the past four years.
“It has been great to be able to partner with NC State and be here,” Jodice said. “Go Pack! We have a lot of pack pride in the building. We couldn’t have asked for a better host.”
Following the climb, participants gathered to listen to Lieutenant General Ralph Jodice, a U.S. Air Force veteran of 36 years and member of F3, speak about the importance of everyone's participation in the climb. Ralph Jodice said everyone who participated should be proud of what they did in honoring the memory of those who risked or lost their lives.
“At the end of the day, guys, it all amounts to this: We care about doing the right thing, doing the right thing right, and doing the right thing for the right reasons,” Ralph Jodice said.