As Sunday marks the 15th anniversary of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, hundreds from across our area gathered Saturday at Roanoke’s Wells Fargo Tower for the second annual Roanoke 9/11 Memorial Stair Climb.
Participants climbed the 22-story tower five times, adding up to 110 stories – the height of the Twin Towers.
“It’s important to show your respect,” said Travis Meador, a Roanoke firefighter and EMT.
Meador made the climb again after participating in the first Roanoke 9/11 Memorial Stair Climb last year.
“It feels tough in number, but you kept pushing each other,” he said. “When it gets hard at times, you pick each other up and carry each other forward.”
Meador and many of his fellow firefighters from departments across the area wore their gear as they made the climb.
“We work in this gear – this is our suit,” Meador said. “This is our job attire.”
While wearing full gear, the climb can take about four hours for many firefighters to complete, Meador said.
“This stair climb got started after the city firefighters went to a stair climb in Richmond,” said Robert Reid, a 1st lieutenant for Roanoke Fire-EMS who is also one of the organizers of the stair climb. “We decided it was something that we could do here.”
In addition to firefighters, police officers, FBI agents and other members of the public participate. More than 300 people turned out for the inaugural event last year, Reid said.
“We are completing the climb that the public safety officers and public servants weren’t able to complete on Sept. 11,” Reid said.
As many participants wear badges to honor the first responders lost on 9/11, the event serves as a reminder that they are never forgotten, Reid said.
“To know the sacrifice that those men and women made, knowing what the outcome probably was going to be, is very, very special to all of us,” he said.
All proceeds from the stair climb benefit the National Fallen Firefighters Foundation, Reid said.
Last year, the stair climb raised $15,000 for the organization, Reid said. This year’s event raised more than $20,000, according to organizers.