Firefighter and Lieutenant-elect Gabby Keats from The Basin Fire Brigade is headed to New York to compete in the fifth annual New York City Memorial Stair Climb.
More than 400 first responders from all over the world visit the US each year to compete in the event which sees participants climb the 80 floors of Building 3 World Trade Center.
The climb is held in memory of the 343 firefighters and 60 police officers killed on 9/11 as well as those who have died since due to 9/11-related illnesses.
It raises money for A Soldiers Journey Home, a charity that provides home wheelchair access for returning veterans. Gabby is the charity’s sixth-highest fundraiser.
Like other firefighters, Gabby will climb Building 3 on 4 May in full turnout gear and BA. She will also be wearing a custom-made helmet which was donated by Street Image and SignX especially for the event.
As part of the memorial climb, she will carry an honour tag with the name of a 9/11 first responder with her to the top. The finish line overlooks Ground Zero, the site of the former World Trade Center.
“I have participated in Melbourne’s Firefighter Stair Climb the past three years and the 9/11 climb is mentioned every year as something to do if you ever get the chance,” Gabby said.
“The US climb has been on my stair-climb bucket list since.
“Climbing here in Melbourne with the name of one of the fallen 9/11 firefighters on my race bib is one thing but to be able travel over to where it happened, climb the 80 floors and finish overlooking ground zero is on an entirely different level.
“It will be the tallest building I have climbed; it will be tough but I know I’ll be able to do it.”
Gabby has been preparing herself physically for the climb for the past two months and is currently training five days a week before having a recovery week before the climb.
“At first I was nervous about the climb thinking what have I gotten myself into – I’ll never be able to climb up 80 floors. But once I got stuck into my training for a few weeks I felt a lot stronger,” she said.
“I train intermittently wearing BA to get acclimatised whether I’m at the gym or during hill climbs.
“I’ve had a couple of set-backs from overtraining but with reluctant rest I got back to it and made sure I had adequate rest days for my body to recover.”
In addition to recognising those lost on 9/11, Gabby’s participation will directly support Lance Corporal Alex Edwards, who was medically retired from the marine corps in 2015 due to his injuries. You can support Gabby’s climb by donating online
While in the US, Gabby plans on visiting fellow firefighters and firehouses in New York as well as catching up with family.