Students Raise Funds and 9/11 Awareness through Symbolic Stair Climb

Students and firefighters pose for a picture outside on campus
September 22, 2021

To commemorate the 20th anniversary of the September 11th terrorist attacks and to raise funds for the Tunnel to Towers Foundation, members of Gamma Phi Beta and Sigma Pi participated in a symbolic stair climb fundraising event held under grey skies at the Queens, NY, campus of St. John’s University on September 16. 

More than 60 St. John’s students, as well as local representatives from the New York Police Department and Fire Department of New York, were in attendance. The event began with the tolling of bells and a prayer followed by a moment of silence. The group then ascended and descended the long staircase leading to the Residence Village to commemorate and express solidarity with what first responders experienced 20 years ago. 

“We walk the stairs with the firefighters in remembrance of what happened on 9/11,” said Gregory Auteri, President, Sigma Pi. “Being from New York City, this day means a lot to us. We thank the firefighters, police officers, and first responders as we remember the lives lost. That day was an attack on New York City, on the United States, and on the entire world.” 

Wren Florenz, a junior majoring in Advertising Communication and a member of Gamma Phi Beta, said she felt blessed to be a part of the sorority and proud to pay tribute to all of those who lost their lives on 9/11. “Terrorism can be defeated,” she said. “It’s a long journey, of course, but it’s possible if we work at it.” 

Grace Browne, President, Gamma Phi Beta, and a senior majoring in Government and Politics, was optimistic about the funds raised for the Tunnel to Towers Foundation. “Sigma Pi raised $1,400 online and Gamma Phi Beta is still fundraising,” she stated. “While walking up and down the stairs, I felt that if I can get this tired by climbing 25 steps, I can’t imagine what the victims and the first responders went through.”

“It is moving to see the first responders here since they are connected to people who were in Manhattan that day and risked and lost their lives,” said Courtney Bedingfield, Gamma Phi Beta Philanthropy Chairperson and a senior majoring in Photography. “Today we pay tribute to the solidarity, compassion, and courage demonstrated by those who responded to the events that unfolded on September 11, 2001.”