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National Fallen Firefighters Foundation

Since 1992, the National Fallen Firefighters Foundation has led a nationwide effort to remember and honor America’s fallen firefighters by uniting and providing support to their immediate survivors. The organization also collaborates with the fire service community to reduce deaths and injuries on the job and offers assistance to departments that have lost firefighters in the line of duty. Each year it holds dozens of 9/11 Memorial Stair Climbs across the country so firefighters and civilians can honor and remember the 343 FDNY firefighters who gave their lives on September 11, 2001.


The first 9/11 Memorial Stair Climb was held when 5 Colorado firefighters gathered at a skyscraper in downtown Denver to climb 110 flights of stairs on September 11, 2005. In doing so, they symbolically completed the journey started at the World Trade Center by their fallen FDNY brothers. Participation in the Stair Climbs steadily increased, and in 2010, the original group from Denver worked with National Fallen Firefighters Foundation to develop a template that would allow the event to be replicated in new cities, leading to dozens of Stair Climbs across the country.

Prior to 2015, climbers in Denver were hesitant to embrace the fundraising element of the experience that seemed to come from outside their fraternity because they preferred to focus on the memorial aspect of the experience they created. Their reluctance was representative of climbers across the country who shared the commitment to honor fallen firefighters through the Stair Climbs. With dedicated and passionate climbers participating in 41 Stair Climbs across the country, the organization needed a solution that would allow a culture of fundraising to develop around their heartfelt events in an organic way.


In 2015, the National Fallen Firefighters Foundation moved its peer-to-peer fundraising to TeamRaiser® for 19 Stair Climbs. TeamRaiser enabled Director of Development Sharon Baroncelli and her team to coach participants through the fundraising experience. The software even created a spark of competition among participants by giving them access to see how their fundraising efforts compared to others on the local and national level. “Challenging others was a big reason for the bump in the numbers,” says Sharon. “Once they saw it was a challenge, it took off on its own.”

Stair Climbs that made the transition to TeamRaiser accounted for three quarters of the fundraising total generated across the country. On average, the Stair Climbs that moved to TeamRaiser outpaced the fundraising of their counterparts by more than 3-to-1.


The success of peer-to-peer fundraising with TeamRaiser in 2015 has the National Fallen Firefighters Foundation thinking big as it looks towards the future of its event. The organization plans to move all 9/11 Memorial Stair Climbs to TeamRaiser in 2016. Ambitious goals have already been set at the national and local levels, including a goal to raise $100,000 by the Denver firefighters who started the 9/11 Memorial Stair Climb movement.


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