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Climbing for fallen heroes

Iola firefighters at 9-11 Memorial Stair Climb

By Holly Neumann

Members of the Iola & Rural Fire Department climbed the stairs of Lambeau Field in honor of the 343 firefighters who lost their lives on Sept. 11, 2001, at the World Trade Center.

The third annual Memorial Stair Climb was held Sept. 12 in Green Bay.

Iola firefighters Gregg Schumacher, Brody Fischer, Braden Paulson, Joe Barden and Jim Irish, along with family members Toni Schumacher, Karen Irish and Devin Paulson, participated in the event.

“This is way to support the fire department and our town,” Fischer said. “It’s a way to show my appreciation to the fallen firefighters.”

Fischer, along with Joe Barden, participated in the event for the first time.

“I have been a firefighter for five years,” Barden said. “This is a great way to honor the fallen and it is amazing to see all the people here.”

Both Irish and Schumacher, along with their wives, are veterans to the climb.

“This is an awesome experience,” Schumacher said.

“Climbing 110 stories lets me express my respect in a way that words can’t,” added wife his Toni. “As I watch my husband climb, I am forced to reckon with the idea that he too could give his own life saving others.”

Irish stated he was glad to see more people participate this year.

“This brings awareness to everything that went on,” he said.

“This is a special event, remembering those lost on that day,” his wife Karen said. “A day that will never be forgotten. I am so thankful knowing that we have such brave men in our community will to sacrifice their lives.”

Both Irish and Schumacher agree that they hope this event brings awareness.

“This is a brotherhood,” Schumacher said. “I hope it brings awareness all year long, not just on Sept. 11.”

“It doesn’t matter where you are from,” added Irish. “We are all in this together.”

Each climber wears a badge containing the name and picture of a fallen firefighter on them.

“Putting a name and a face to the cause makes it real,” Irish said.

For Schumacher, he has carried the badge he wore last year in the pocket of his turn out gear ever since.

“I was able to finish the climb for him and he has been with me on every call since then,” he said.
“It takes a special person to do what they do,” Karen said. “That goes for all firemen. The courage they have is truly amazing.”

This event is hosted by Pierce Manufacturing.

Proceeds from the event benefit the National Fallen Firefighters Foundation.

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