First responder foundation decries banishment from 1 World Trade
An organization that raises money for veterans and first-responders will not be allowed to hold its second annual “stair climb” at One World Trade Center this year, and that’s “Un-American,” according to the organization’s chief operating officer.
“It is incredible to me that civil servants were willing to give up their lives in order to save total strangers and the management of One [World Trade Center] is not willing to give up the building at 5 am on a Sunday morning because it is potentially inconvenient for them,” wrote John Hodge, the chief operating officer of the Tunnel to Towers Foundation, in an email to executives at Legends, which operates the observatory at the building’s pinnacle, and the Durst Organization, which co-owns the building with the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey.
“I am hoping that they will reconsider,” wrote Hodge in the email, which was acquired by POLITICO New York. “I do not believe that this will sit well with the heroes of 9-11.”
Jordan Barowitz, a spokesman for the Durst Organization, noted that the landlord had donated $25,000 to Tunnel to Towers, and more than $1 million to the National September 11 Memorial and Museum, which the museum confirmed.
“As we learned from last year’s event, the unique design and security requirements of One World Trade Center make stair-climbs extraordinarily difficult,” he said, in an emailed statement. “We share Mr. Hodge’s passion for his cause, have supported Tunnels to Towers in the past and have offered future support.”
A spokesman for the Port Authority said, "We will defer to the Durst comment on this issue."
In a follow-up interview, Hodge offered a different explanation: The landlords think a cavalcade of firefighters and first responders streaming up the steps of One World Trade Center “affects their ability to lease the remaining space in the building.”
Stair climbs have become a common fundraising technique around the world.
Last year, the 1,000 participants in the the Tunnel to Towers stair climb raised about $500,000.
The organization is named for Hodge's cousin, Stephen Siller, a firefighter who died on September 11 after running through the Brooklyn Battery Tunnel to the rescue.
Last year's money went to build homes for injured veterans.
“The very same first responders who are being denied access to the building for the purposes of a stair climb would be climbing up those same stairs to save lives all over again,” Hodge said.