MYRTLE BEACH, SC (WMBF) - A Myrtle Beach man is setting out to honor his 9/11 brothers and sisters and bring awareness to a serious cause.
John Walters is a retired New York City Firefighter that lives now in Myrtle Beach, he has dedicated his life to help others.
Once, a proud member of the FDNY's Elite Rescue 1 Team, Walters was a devoted firefighter who lost his leg in 2006.
"The taxi cab crashed into the back the truck," said Walters. He and another firefighter were pinned between the cab and the fire truck.
Walters explained, "My right leg I lost above the knee and the left leg they said I was going to lose below the knee and probably never walk again."
He was recently in New York to be fitted for a special prosthetic to allow him to participate in fundraising event in Fort Worth, Texas called Climb for a Calling, an intense 2,200 stair climb he will undertake.
For this retired New York City firefighter, it is not about the number of stairs, it is about the cause.
"I got this idea that with me losing a leg and losing so many guys in 9/11 that maybe I can honor my brothers by doing a climb also," said Walters.
Walters said he has been training to take on climbing the stairs. "I go to the gym three days a week, I have a good personal trainer
that's helping me, and we've been working hard at it,"
As one can imagine the work to reach his goal step by step will not be easy. "It is about twice as much work as it is for a normal person, then you couple it with the fact that I have to do one stair at a time with my left foot first," said Walters.
Walters works with Sons of the Flag organization, the non-profit based out of Dallas, Texas, is bringing awareness and donations to support burn survivors all across the country.
"I thought it would be a good thing to raise money for these kids burn camps across the country," said the passionate firefighter. The organization has raised thousands of dollars in donations to help burn survivors and their families.
He says he is also doing this climb to honor his brothers and sisters that lost their lives during the September 11th terrorist attacks. Walters said for a long time it was hard to talk about 9/11 because it was too close to his heart, but that changed.
"I watched Pearl Harbor and I watched these guys from World War II and their thing was never forget which is the same for 9/11 which is never forget, but if somebody doesn't share these stories with the younger generation we are going to forget, so I decided to start speaking about it."
Now, Walters is not just talking, he is a strong advocate, taking steps to honor those that sacrificed their lives. He said he is determined not to let his disability stop him from helping others.
"There's an old adage that a retired chief for New York City came up with at the turn of the century, the greatest act of bravery is not what you do in the line of duty, the greatest act of bravery is when you raise your right hand to be sworn in, everything else you do is in the line of duty and that doesn't stop if you become retired or disable."
Walters said his goal is to raise $20,000 for burn survivors right here in South Carolina and across the country.
The Climb for a Calling is open to all those individuals who want to pay tribute to and honor those who have given their lives in the line of duty, whether they be veterans or first responders. The 2,200 stairs is equivalent to the 110 stories of the World Trade Center.