ROTC cadets run stairs for Wounded Warrior Project
Published: Thursday, September 13, 2012
Updated: Thursday, September 13, 2012 19:09
First responders on the morning of Sept. 11 climbed numerous floors to rescue and aid civilians trapped in the Twin Towers after the structures were struck by hijacked planes.
To honor those who risked or lost their lives, Plattsburgh State ROTC cadets jogged 110 flights of stairs — the Twin Towers had 110 stories — Tuesday at the Kehoe Administration Building.
The climb began at 6:20 a.m. The 24 cadets who participated, two of whom were from Clinton Community College, split up into two groups, and each group used the opposite staircase. The cadets made 10 trips up and down the 11 floors. All finished within 45 minutes, ending up with sweat-drenched gray and black physical training uniforms.
For each floor completed, cadets received donations of all amounts from mostly PSUC students. They collected more than $600, which will be sent to the Wounded Warrior Project, a nonprofit organization that aids injured veterans and their families.
Andrew Streim, a cadet in his fourth year in the ROTC program, was among the senior cadets who organized the fundraiser. He said the event was a chance to represent what police officers and firefighters did on 9/11.
“The least we can do is replicate what they did,” said Streim, adding that rescuers had to climb stairs with equipment.
Adjunct professor of military science at the University of Vermont and director of military studies Michael Palaza commended the cadets for coming up with the fundraiser idea on their own.
“They do it out of the goodness of their heart,” Palaza said. “It’s really kind of nice to not have to direct that type of stuff.”
The Wounded Warrior Project was founded in 2003 and was created by veterans and friends in Virginia, according to its website. It serves only veterans injured on or after Sept.11, which is up to 20,000 veterans and more than 1,000 families. The organization offers a wide range of programs, including mental and physical recovery, job assistance and training, and support services for families and caregivers.
Douglas Goodfellow, chair of military studies and ROTC instructor, participated in the climb along with Palaza. Goodfellow, a lieutenant colonel, was deployed to Afghanistan in 2005. He said a majority of soldiers are young, and the Wounded Warrior Project is a good organization that helps veterans transition back to civilian life.
Although a majority of soldiers return fine, soldiers who are wounded need to get specialized treatment because injuries vary from soldier to soldier, Palaza said. He said the organization spends a lot of time getting veterans the right help.
“At the end of the day, soldiers, airmen, sailors have all signed up to defend their country, so we owe it back to them to take care of them,” Palaza said. “That’s a long battle. That’s not something that ends a year after their back. It’s a lifetime worth of trying to help them out.”
For Timothy Farrow, a veteran of two campaigns in Afghanistan and a ROTC cadet, the climb revealed a new perspective about 9/11 and helped him realize the difficulty rescuers faced having to climb numerous staircases with gear on. He said Sept. 11 is a good day to remember those who were lost, but they should be remembered year round.
“One day is not enough,” Farrow said.
ROTC cadet Tyler Swett said the beginning of the climb was tough, but he was able to get into a pace once his legs went numb. He was one of the few cadets wearing an army combat uniform, which consists of camouflage boots, pants, a vest with a sand colored shirt underneath and a cap. Cadets wearing combat uniforms are considered elite physically.
“I can’t imagine what they must have gone through,” Swett said. “It’s just a small slice of the hardship they had to endure, so I feel kind of humbled by it.”
It was the first time PSUC’s ROTC program held a 9/11 stair climb. Goodfellow said he hopes to make the stair climb an annual event and open up the event to PSUC students.