Jennifer Chauvin, Travis Etie take on 9/11 Memorial Stair Climb

Published 12:05 am Saturday, September 9, 2017

NEW ORLEANS — St. John the Baptist Parish firefighters will be represented at today’s New Orleans 9/11 Memorial Stair Climb with a special cause of their own.

Firefighter operator Travis Etie and Jennifer Chauvin are making the climb in honor of the hundreds of first responders killed 16 years ago during the New York City terror attacks and also in tribute to Jennifer’s husband, St. John Parish District Fire Chief Spencer Chauvin.

Spencer, 36, was killed Aug. 28, 2016, by an unlicensed driver while working a crash scene on the elevated bridge along Interstate 10.

Jennifer said events in Spencer’s name inspire her.

“We do whatever we can to honor him,” she said. “We’ve attended all the memorials and are actually going to two more, one happening on Sept. 14 and another one Oct. 4. We try to do everything we can to memorialize and remember him.”

The 2nd Annual New Orleans 9/11 Memorial Stair Climb starts at 7 a.m.this morning with registration at 400 Poydras Tower in New Orleans.

Organizers said the event pays tribute to the 343 firefighters, 60 law enforcement officers and eight emergency medical service technicians that made the ultimate sacrifice with their lives following the collapse of the Twin Towers in New York City.

A Brotherhood Bash in Lafayette Square is planned after the climb with live music and the inaugural “Battle of the Badges Cook-Off,” where fire, police and EMS cook and serve their best dish to see who will be crowned champion.

Jennifer credits her training partner, Etie, for putting her in a position to honor and raise money for first responders.

“It’s difficult; I don’t think I could have just showed up and did it without the training Travis (Etie) and I have been doing for the past two months,” Jennifer said. “Normally, I try to go at least five out of seven days a week. We started off going about 20 to 30 minutes a day and I used to wear tennis shoes without a helmet. I guess for the past month or so, I have been wearing the helmet with the boots and everything, plus the packet.

“I’m going to wear Spencer’s helmet.”

The Memorial Stair Climb is an arduous exercise with each participant climbing 110 flights of stairs in recognition of the Twin Towers tragedy. Climbers wear full personal protective equipment, steel toe boots, bunker gear, air pack, helmet, gloves and mask. Depending on the department, the gear adds an extra 35 to 60 pounds.

“It’s not an easy feat; it’s not fast,” Etie said.

“You have to push through. It’s a whole different animal than some of the stuff we face here. It’s an eye opener.”

Etie, who completed a similar event in Lafayette two years ago, said he climbs in honor of 9/11 first responders and tries to think about what they may have been thinking when climbing 110 stories in 2001.

“The adrenaline kicks in and motivates you,” he said. “They had an awesome ceremony in Lafayette and they gave us a laminated card of who you were walking in tribute to. It had the story about that person. That means so much more. It’s not just me doing it. I’m representing someone in the fire department, my brothers — the past, present and future.”

New Orleans event director and Jefferson Parish firefighter Neil Navarro said more than 30 Memorial Stair Climbs occur every year across the country.

“It will be a humbling experience and intense reminder of the sacrifice, dedication and commitment required of those who serve and protect our communities,” Navarro said.

Registered climbers will ascend 110 floors, the height of the former World Trade Center Twin Towers.

Each climber will bear the name of a first responder that perished at Ground Zero.

Proceeds from the event go toward the Louisiana Heroes Project, a non-profit organization that supports Louisiana first responders, military and veterans.

The New Orleans 9/11 Stair Climb is a sanctioned event of the Association of Memorial Stair Climb organization. Visit to learn more.