KNOXVILLE (WATE) – Hundreds of Tennessee first responders climbed dozens of stairs on Saturday to honor their fellow first responders who were killed on 9/11.
The 6th Annual Knoxville Memorial Stair Climb happened at the iconic Sunsphere.
Emotions were high as first responders climbed the same number of steps in the Twin Towers, to honor the 343 firefighters who died in the attack in 2001.
“The month prior I had just swore into the Air Force and deployed of basic training but it really hit me hard, at the time I was volunteering for a fire department in North East Tennessee,” said Knoxville firefighter Mark Lane. “I remember it very vividly, watching it with my father, and the second plane hitting the tower and everything unfolding in front of us.”
New York City Firefighter Joe Finley said its hard to relive what happened, but he can’t stop thinking about his colleagues. “Our fire house has nine guys and that day it was probably 100 firefighters that I’ve worked with from surrounding company’s that were lost,” said Finley.
Many firefighters wore up to 60 pounds of full gear while climbing the stairwell over and over until they hit 110 stories.
Lane said every stop was worth it, “I was just thinking about the families that have been impacted by the loss. I remember a few years ago when I did a little research on the guy I climbed for, he had a great story and a great family,” said Lane. “I just think about them and the brothers that I’m climbing with now and the sisters, and the suffering that we go through is minimal to what we all have felt.”
All proceeds from Knoxville Memorial Stair Climb benefited the The National Fallen Firefighters Foundation. Their mission is to provide educational resources to help prevent line-of-duty deaths for first responders.