WICHITA, Kan. (KSNW) – Firefighters gathered from all over Kansas and the Midwest on Sunday to remember 9/11.
Dozens gathered to climb the steps of Wichita’s Epic Center. They walked 110 floors in honor of those firefighters who lost their lives in the terror attacks on the Twin Towers.
“I did my first climb last year, and when I did that, I wanted to learn more about my firefighter, Paul Tegtmeier,” says Pittsburg Firefighter William Holt.
Holt says he did his first Wichita 9/11 Memorial Stair Climb last year, and he carried a picture of New York City Firefighter Paul Tegtmeier. Tegtmeier died while trying to save people in the towers after the attack.
“His son (Aric) was six years old when his dad passed away on 9/11,” says Holt. “And I did some research and ended up getting in touch with his son. And now I’ve become like best friends with his son, and we talk about his dad all the time. And that’s what, honestly… the personal connection of actually just taking the next step and meeting somebody that was in his life.”
While Aric Tegtmeyer has become a part of Holt’s life, the Pittsburg native says he wants to keep the tradition going.
“Very, very cool experience,” says Holt. “When I first talked to Aric, he told me something that I’ll probably never forget is that the day that his dad died. He did lose a dad but the brotherhood and the fire service? He gained hundreds of dads.”
Firefighters in Wichita also observed two different moments of silence to honor the fallen firefighters from 15 years ago.
“It’s a great honor for us to honor those people today,” says Battalion Chief Doug Winter with the Wichita Fire Department. “I don’t think people can fathom what those individuals went through that day, the courage it took, all in an effort to save people’s lives.”