Virtual Stair Climb FAQ

Why do we climb?

We climb because of the demands of their profession, firefighters and first responders succumb to numerous mental health issues, including PTSI, substance abuse, and suicide, at alarming rates.

What is a First Responder?

A person who is among those responsible for going immediately to the scene of an accident or emergency to provide assistance, including police, fire, EMT and dispatchers.

What is Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSI)?

A mental health condition that's triggered by a terrifying event, either experiencing it or witnessing it. Symptoms may include flashbacks, nightmares and severe anxiety, as well as uncontrollable thoughts about the event. (Mayo Clinic)

How does this affect our firefighters and other first responders?

Firefighters have significantly higher rates of PTSI than the average person. The rate for PTSD in firefighters is over 22% with the strongest predictor being number of years of service. The more time on the job, the more likely it is that firefighters experience PTSD.

What are firefighter rates of alcohol addiction?

One of the most common symptom of PTSI is alcohol addiction. Almost 30% of firefighters experience problematic alcohol use. (Boxer and Wild, 1993) Cincinnati's National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health conducted a survey in 1993 where it reported an estimate that up to 29% of firefighters have had problems with alcohol use and/or abuse. (Clinical Psychology Associates, 2013)

What is the rate of suicide among firefighters?

Sadly, without help Firefighters are at a greater risk of contemplating suicide. Suicide is the 10th leading cause of death in the United States, with and estimated 13 people per 100,000 dying by suicide annually. A study published in July 2016 by the Centers for Disease Control looked at suicide in 17 states and found that rates of suicide among emergency services personnel (which includes both firefighters and police) was 34.1 per 100,000, more than double the national average among the general population (, 8-15-16) A Florida State University Study has shown that nearly half of firefighters have contemplated suicide and approximately 15.5% have actually attempted suicide.

Where do our donations go?​

All donations are paid to the National First Responders Fund (NFRF). The National First Responders Fund (NFRF) is registered as a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization. Contributions to the NFRF are tax-deductible to the extent permitted by law. The NFRF's tax identification number is 82-3266569.

Why is the climb going virtual?

As an organization, our highest priority is the health and safety of our participants, staff, volunteers and spectators. Local laws and regulations regarding the COVID-19 outbreak and social distancing continue to change often. Because of this, we have decided to launch with a virtual-only event. We will keep an eye on safety and local regulations, and if things get better we will look at adding an in-person element in San Francisco. The virtual event will still be the main focus, and will not change if we do move to a partial live event.

Do I need to register for the climb?

Yes, in order to fundraise and receive the shirt/medal/bib you need to register and sign our event waiver. Each participant must register individually to be eligible for fundraising awards.

How do I get my finisher medal and bib?

Registration for the event is free. But in order to receive your swag, you must raise a minimum of $150 and submit proof of having done the climb. Please be sure you include your shipping address when registering so we know where to send it. We will re-confirm the shipping address and shirt size before sending. All swag will be shipped mid-November after fundraising closes.

Are there other awards I can win?

Yes! This year because we can’t do an in-person climb, and the timekeeping/activities will be so varied, we will not have prizes for fastest climbers. Prizes for the 2021 Stair Climb will be announced soon. We will also have Social media prizes which will be announced periodically. Follow us on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter to be notified of these opportunities.

When is the climb?

Registration opens late-spring. Participation window will be August 11 to September 11, 2021. You can complete your climb activity on your own any time during that window.

Can I still register after the August 11th start date?

Yes, you can register any time before the event window closes at 11:59 pm on September 11, 2021

Where is the climb?

You can climb ANYWHERE. With a virtual event, you can create your own course.

What is the minimum age?

There is no minimum age to participate in the NFRF Stair Climb. All are welcome to register and participate. Your family is welcome to join you when you do your climb activity, but everyone must register and fundraise individually to be eligible to receive a shirt/medal/bib

What if there are no stairs near me? Are there other workouts?

Our original plan was to climb the 1197 stairs of the 555 California Street building in San Francisco, together, live, in-person. For the virtual climb we will offer a variety of activities that approximate this climb. Since not everyone has access to that many stairs, here are some alternate workouts you can do that are the equivalent of the 1197 stairs at 555 California Street Building: * Stairs: 1197 stairs in your home, apartment, parking garage, office building, outdoor park. If your house has 12 stairs going down to your basement, climb it 100 times. Or maybe there is an outdoor staircase or parking garage near you that has 200 stairs - climb those 6 times (it’s ok to climb up and take the elevator down…) *Steps: 1197 steps on a gym stair climber or elliptical machine either in your home or local gym *Step-Ups: 600 step-ups onto a chair or riser in your home, or low wall/bench in a local park *Walk: 7500 “strides” or 3.75 miles of walking outside or on a treadmill (try to add a hill or two in there to make it challenging) *Hike: 750 ft elevation gain (or 75 flights on your fitness tracker) *Swim: 1200 meters swimming (48 laps in an Olympic size pool, more in a smaller pool) *Run: 2 miles running (add some hill sprints for an added challenge) *Cycle: 20 miles cycling (road or mountain bike, or indoor bike trainer). Don’t cheat with an e-bike (or maybe go longer distance if that is all you have) *Design Your Own Program. This is a great option for injured, disabled or otherwise physically challenged climbers, or climbers who prefer alternate workouts like kayaking, SUP, etc. (Contact us at if you wish to go that route and we can help you come up with a course/workout that will qualify you for the awards)

Can we climb as a team?

Yes, we encourage you to create a fundraising team and fundraise together. For the actual climb, please only climb with members of your immediate household or social bubble, or be sure to wear masks and stay 6’ apart (follow local guidelines). All team members must meet the fundraising requirement individually in order to receive awards. Team totals do not count towards other members of the team (for instance, only members who raise at least $150 will receive the shirt/medal/bib. If one member raises $300 and one member $0, even though that averages $150 each, only the member who raised the $150 will receive the award.) This is to encourage everyone to raise funds, and to raise the most amount of money for NFRF and First Responders in need.

Any other ideas to make the day fun?

A virtual climb doesn’t mean you can’t have fun with friends, family, co-workers. Try one of these ideas to add a little pizzazz to your climb:

  • Climb together: Video chat with your team and have someone ring a bell so you all begin at the same time in your different locations.
  • Relay: Set an order for a virtual relay. You can’t start your climb activity until someone else from your team calls to say they’re done and hands you a virtual baton.
  • Post-event celebration: After the climb, have a video call with your team to share stories of the route and unwind together. Maybe have an ice cream social or order food from the same restaurant.
  • Team Costume: wear the same costume, have t-shirts made with your team name, or dress in a certain theme. Or have a competition with your team to see who has the most creative costume. Post photos to our Finisher Page!
  • Include great tunes: Check back here for an inspiring playlist to get you through even the toughest of workouts. But please be safe if you are doing your climb activity in public spaces and make sure you have at least 1 ear free to hear and be aware of traffic and people around you.

When do I need to complete my activity?

Instructions for activity completion will be announced soon. Check back for details!

How do I track my workout activity?

Instructions for activity completion will be announced soon. Check back for details!

How do I upload my results?

Instructions for activity completion will be announced soon. Check back for details!

What do I do after I have completed my activity?

Visit our Finisher Page to take your finish line photo, see posts from other climbers, and more! Be sure to post that you’ve completed your climb on social media! Sample Post: Climb completed! Mission Accomplished! Today I took to the stairs to raise funds for First Responders with Post Traumatic Stress Injuries. I climbed 1197 stairs in support. Please help us help those who help us by donating to my fundraising page. My goal is $500. Every donation helps! We'd love to see your photos from your climb! Please use #WhyIClimb or #NFRFVirtualClimb when you post your virtual climb photos so our entire community can see them! We will also be giving out social media posting prizes and featuring the best posts on our website. And don’t forget to keep fundraising. Send emails, post donation requests on Facebook, call your grandma - let people know you climbed for a cause. The more you raise, the bigger your rewards.

How do I know if I met the fundraising requirement?

You can check your fundraising page. A link to customize it should have been emailed to you immediately following registration. If you have questions or cannot access it, please email and we will get you sorted.

When can I start fundraising?

Immediately after you register you will be able to start fundraising towards your goal (even before the official August 11th start date).

Do you have tips on fundraising?

KICK OFF your fundraising by making a personal donation. People are more likely to donate when they see someone else has already donated to the cause. CUSTOMIZE your fundraising page. Share your personal story and pictures outlining why you climb. SHARE with family, friends & co-workers why you are climbing and ask them to support your efforts! CONNECT your fundraising page to a Facebook Fundraiser to easily reach your fundraising goal. Participants that connect their account to Facebook raise much more than those who don’t! IMPORTANT: For a Facebook Fundraiser to be credited to your fundraising efforts, it MUST be connected through your participant page. Facebook Fundraiser How-To Facebook Fundraiser FAQ

What do I do with cash/check donations?

We would prefer if all donations are made online through your fundraising page. But we understand that some business or relatives may wish to give you cash or a check. Please download our offline donation form here and return with payment to: 2020 Stair Climb Donations
National First Responders Fund
700 Montgomery St
San Francisco, CA 94111 NOTE: If you receive a cash donation, please keep the cash yourself and write us a check in that amount - please do not send cash through the mail.

Can I get a refund if I can't participate?

Since registration is free, there is nothing to refund in terms of a registration fee. Any donations that you or your friends and family have made are considered tax-deductible donations, and can not be refunded.

Can I change my shirt size?

Yes, we will reach out to you to confirm your size and mailing address before we ship. You can make any updates at that time.

When will I get my awards?

Awards information will be announced soon. Check back for details.

Is it safe to do a virtual stair climb? What about social distancing?

Keeping our climbers safe is our top priority--that's why we're having a virtual event. We expect all participants to follow all city, state, and federal laws while participating. These likely include minimum distances from other people, crowd sizes, and protective gear requirements like masks or gloves. Since we cannot know the laws of all cities/states, we encourage you to look up and abide by your local rules. You are responsible for following all rules of the municipality in which you participate in the climb. Please see this Runners World article for some helpful information. You are accountable for choosing a safe route. You have lots of flexibility on when to do your climb activity, and what route to follow. Try to find a stairwell or location that is not crowded with tourists or other locals looking for a good workout. Or perhaps do your activity before or after the crowds dissipate. If you live in a city where "open streets" have been created for pedestrians, those can be a good resource, as well. Follow guidelines from local, state, and federal agencies on how to stay safe. Depending on your area, you may need to wear protective equipment, maintain safe social distance, and/or obey curfews/stay-at-home orders. If local regulations, conditions, or your personal risk factors/comfort prevent you from doing your climb activity outside, please contact us for alternate methods of completing/logging the event. Here are a few articles for you: The latest from the City and County of San Francisco: Stay Active During the Coronavirus Pandemic 9 running dos and don'ts during the Covid-19 pandemic The Washington Post: So, you’re getting into running during a pandemic. Here’s what you need to know Advent Health: How to Exercise Outdoors During the Coronavirus Outbreak CDC Latest Guidelines And remember, event safety is not all about Covid-19. All of the usual safety rules will still apply to your workout:

  • Don’t work out in unsafe areas alone (unpopulated areas, deserted streets, and overgrown trails)
  • Wear reflective clothing or lights if you’re climbing, hiking, walking, running or biking outdoors at dawn or dusk and stick to routes that are well-lit
  • Use protective gear when appropriate — for instance, helmets when cycling
  • Look both ways before crossing. Obey traffic signals
  • Carry identification or write your name, phone number, and blood type on the inside sole of your running shoe. Include any medical information
  • Let someone know your planned route so they know where to find you if you don’t return
  • When using multi-use trails, follow the rules of the trail to avoid a potential collision with an oncoming cyclist or passing runner
  • Stay hydrated, use sunscreen, don’t overdo it

Can you offer any training tips?

Yes! Take it easy and train at your own pace and consider your own capabilities. This is not a timed activity. You can take 5 hours (or more) to do it if you want to! You will be training on your own, but we will offer weekly challenges to help get you inspired and in-shape for the actual event day. Be sure to opt in to text messages and to join our social media pages to be alerted of these training challenges. There will be prizes to be had! If you are under the care of a physician, please consult your doctor and obtain his/her permission to enter this event given the details of the climb. Train and hydrate. Hydration should occur well in advance of event day as well as during and after the climb. If you are new to climbing stairs, then start slow and build up your tempo. To reduce the risk of injury, place your entire foot on the stair each time.

What is a Virtual Climb?

Are you asking yourself "What the heck is a virtual stair climb?!" You are not the only one. Here is some inspiration and information to help you explain it to your friends and family.

The Benefits of a Virtual Climb

·Do your climb whenever you want: Usually we ask you to do the climb on a certain date at a certain time in a certain location. But what if you've got a schedule conflict? With a virtual climb, you pick the day, time and location. You have an entire month to pick the day that works best for you! Climb at 5am or 10pm or mid-day on a Tuesday - whenever works for you.

·Do your climb wherever you want: Don’t have the time or money to travel to San Francisco on September 12th? The thought of 1197 stairs all at once scares the jeepers out of you? With a virtual climb, you pick the activity - you are not restricted to stairs. Do it in your neighborhood or a local park. Walk, run, climb, bike, hike, swim, dance, roll or crawl - the activity is up to you.

·Take as long as you need to complete the climb: Nobody's judging you. OK, we think our NFRF Stair Climb athletes are the best, and they would never judge you for being a slow climber. But that does not stop YOU from THINKING they are judging you, or from feeling you somehow have to beat the 18-year-old-All-American-athlete next to you. When you do a virtual climb, you just focus on doing your best and having a great time. No need to worry about finishing before the timing staff is gone and building security does their final stairwell sweep.

·Hassle free! No driving/parking issues, and no need to stand in a long porta-potty line. That alone makes a virtual climb a superior option!

·Climb with family members, your dog, your kid in a stroller. Or get your family involved in cheering you on with finish line signs, a medal ceremony, staffing your “water stations”, etc.

·Climb with friends, no matter where they live: A virtual climb lets you have a shared experience with your friends or family, even if you live halfway across the world. You can all start at the same time. Maybe Facebook Live or Facetime each other along the way for encouragement. Plan for a virtual brunch after the climb and meet up on Zoom for a mimosa and pancake party.

Have more questions?