Amber Davis, business manager in veterinary and animal sciences and a 2007 graduate in Judaic studies, raced up the sweltering stairwell of One World Trade Center in New York City on May 17 with 900 fellow competitors to raise money for service members catastrophically injured in war.
The race, which honors a firefighter killed in the 9/11 terrorist attack on the World Trade Center, raised about $500,000.
Called the T2T climb, the event was sponsored by the Stephen Siller Tunnel to Towers Foundation, which supports service members who’ve been severely injured in war and helps educate children who've lost a parent. Among the foundation’s efforts is building adapted smart homes for the most severely hurt.
Davis conquered the 1,970 steps in 22 minutes, 1 second, to finish 10th among women in her age group; 55th among all 338 women, and 300th of 901 overall.
“The climb itself was very emotional,” Davis said. “Many climbers were crying – this was the site where so many had lost their lives.”
She said one highlight of her effort was writing a “UMass dedication” on the unfinished wall of the 90th floor, where the climb ended. Before the race, she said she would compete as a member of the UMass Amherst community “in memory of the individuals, family and friends whose lives were affected by this tragic event.”
She said climbers were slowed a bit by security issues. Stairwell doors were closed, holding heat “like a sauna,” and because watches and other devices were banned, climbers had trouble pacing themselves. Nonetheless, “It was a great climb,” she said.
Davis completed her first competitive climb in November and is part of the Tower Masters, the Northeast’s preeminent stair squad with 21 members from several states. She trains regularly in the stairwells of the Du Bois Library and Lederle Graduate Research Center.