Community participates in 9/11 Memorial Stair Climb

Published: Sep. 9, 2023 at 6:25 PM EDT
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ROANOKE, Va. (WDBJ) - Roanoke first responders and community members climbed flights of stairs Saturday morning to honor the men and women who died on 9/11.

At the Wells Fargo building Saturday, firefighters, law enforcement officers, and members of the Roanoke community participated in the 9/11 Memorial Stair Climb. Each participant climbed an equivalent of 110 stories, equal to the World Trade Center.

“We are all gathered here as brothers and sisters for a greater purpose. Even greater than ourselves,” said the widow of a fallen firefighter, Melanie Clark.

More than 300 people walked up and down 20 flights of stairs 5 times to honor the bravery of firefighters on September 11th, 2001.

As they climbed, they all wore badges around their necks with photos and names of FDNY firefighters.

“Their sacrifice changed our nation but also influenced our communities to come together during a time of uncertainty,” added Clark.

When people completed the walks, they said the names on their badges, and rang the bell, signifying the beginning and end of day for the fallen firefighters.

“I just came out to honor the fallen brothers. It’s a great event; everybody in the community can come out and pay their respects,” said Roanoke County Fire & Rescue’s Logan Dennis.

Firefighters Garrett Ruggieri and Logan Dennis completed the stair climb side by side. This is Ruggieri’s second time doing the climb.

“After doing it my first time last year, I couldn’t imagine skipping it,” says Ruggieri.

Dennis suited up for his first year, despite Saturday’s heat.

“It’s kind of different being a firefighter because you can put yourself somewhat in their shoes and kind of almost experience what they have been through on that day, and it means a little bit more to me,” explained Dennis.

“People want to come and remember what happened on 9/11 because it was one of the greatest acts of courage and bravery in modern history,” added Rachel Hale.

Rachel Hale with Roanoke Fire EMS says the stair climb raises money to fund programs that support families of fallen firefighters.

“I just think it’s really great. All of the money is raised for the National Fallen Firefighters Foundation and it’s used to support families of fallen firefighters in the Roanoke Valley,” stated Hale.

Event leaders hope to continue this tradition next year.