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Meet John Barrett of Dallas 9/11 Memorial Stair Climb

Today we’d like to introduce you to John Barrett.

In 2011, Plano, TX Fire Fighter John Barrett attended the Fire Fighter Instructor Conference in Indianapolis, IN and came back inspired by other cities who were honoring the fallen fire fighters of that first fateful 9/11. With this goal in mind he and his team of volunteers created the first annual Dallas 9/11 memorial Stair Climb.

They raised nearly 160000.00 for the families of fallen fire fighters and had approximately 1500 guest and 160 climbers.

In 2012, It took only 72 hours to fill the available climber spots. Donations that year were over 61000.00.

In 2013, John and his team added 70 more climbers to represent the fallen police offices of that Twin Tower tragedy and the available spots were filled in 4 hours and donations were nearly 76000.00.

In 2014, the team added 9 EMS representatives to honor those that made the ultimate sacrifice that day. The available climber positions were filled in 2 seconds. Donations again neared the 76000.00 mark.

Each fallen first respondent is represented by an active duty of their branch.

Also in 2014, the Brotherhood Bash (a climber and their family) after party was added.

In 2015, the available spots were again filled in 2 seconds. 128 agencies and climbers from 4 states are now consistently represented. Donations dipped by nearly half to just over 33000.00.

The event raises money to donate to fallen first respondent organizations, such as The National Fallen Fire Fighter Foundation and the Texas Line of Duty Death Task Force just to name a couple that have been the recipient of funds in the past. Our event is closed to the public and is only open to the climbers, their families, honored guest and the small army of volunteers.

We will continue to honor our fallen. Because FORGETTING IS NOT AN OPTION.

As this event grows, there are hopeful plans in the discussion phase to incorporate the public in a fundraising effort for a permanent memorial piece that will grace the down town Dallas landscape. But as I stated, that is only in the discussion phase. We would love to put a committee team of volunteers to address this possibility. If anyone is interested in volunteering for this or donating your time or money to any aspect of The Dallas 9/11 Climb, please go to our website and contact us

In 2015, A second wave of Climbers was added to represent those volunteers who worked the pile at ground zero and have since succumbed to 9/11 cancer.

Overall, has it been relatively smooth? If not, what were some of the struggles along the way?
The struggles of a new organization is fielding all the moving parts. After our first climb in 2011 we quickly restructured board membership to add support departments to disperse the responsibility roles of such a large event. It takes a volunteer army of 200 just on the event day. Our planning committee is 52 members strong. Each of the members are an active duty first respondent or related to one in some capacity or another and they each donate their time and expertise to their field and committee position. We start planning each January. Well we really never stop actually. And this event and every position in non paid and strictly volunteer.

You have to anticipate every possible scenario. As a first respondent, we do this on a daily basis. You have to develop a contingency plan for everything, even if it rains as was the case for last year. Public safety and security is an absolute must. You must obtain city permits, assign security and safety details, water stations for the climbers, (those stairwells get hot) activities for the kids, arranging access for the press, securing and preserving the memorabilia, remote viewing rooms for the families to watch the climbers.

Keeping track of everybody and everything can be mind numbing. All this while preserving the sanctity of a memorial service tradition. Also keeping in mind, the future of the event. Future plans and securing its continued success as we pass the baton to new leadership.

Dallas 9/11 Memorial Stair Climb – what should we know? What do you guys do best? What sets you apart from the competition?
This organization doesn’t make anything, We don’t sell anything, except some fundraising event t-shirts, challenge coins, etc…. Everything we sell goes right back into the event.

We provide a memorial service and activity to honor those first respondents that died in the Twin Towers of New York on that first 9/11.


We are most proud of our climber participation rate. Our spots to represent the fallen fill up in just 2 seconds. We would have to say that we are proud of the number of volunteers that serve year after year just because 9/11 touched them so profoundly. The fact that the public wants to be more involved touches a chord. It’s just not the first respondent families… it’s those that they serve that want to give back to the memory of that fateful day.

What is “success” or “successful” for you?
We define success by success.

We try to find people who hold the same vision of the event and its success that we do.

Our performance in providing a well run and meaningful event is how we define our success.

The results speak for themselves.

The participation of climbers, volunteers and the funds donated to support the organizations we give them to.

These are the organization who support the families of our fallen first respondents.

Our success speaks for itself.

Contact Info:

Image Credit:
Angela Pickle
Bill Favors
Christie Davis
Debbie Conard
Denise Yealy
Eric Wellman
Fred Blundell
Greg Roach
Hal Ticknor
Jason, Reyes
Jaz Levario
John Mouser
Mike Cantrell
Mike Meyer
Rebekah Refing
Shaunte Morgan
Yvette Mouser
Charis Cranford

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