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343 people climb BMS grandstands in memory of 9/11 firefighters
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343 people climb BMS grandstands in memory of 9/11 firefighters

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BRISTOL, Tenn. — First responders and their supporters climbed stairs Saturday in memory of those who died in the World Trade Center in 2001.

The sixth annual Tri-Cities 9/11 Memorial Stair Climb gave climbers the opportunity to climb at Bristol Motor Speedway. During the climb, which was held in the grand stands at the Last Great Colosseum, individuals climbed 110 floors, the height of the fallen World Trade Center.

Each climber carried an ID tag of a fallen hero and rang a bell to announce the name.

Lines of uniformed first responders and others could be seen walking through the stands Saturday. Many carried American flags. Others wore patriotic red, white and blue colors during the walk.

A total of 343 registered for the event, which was the limit, according to coordinator Andrew Catron. On Sept. 11, 2001, a total of 343 firefighters died as a result of the terrorist attack in New York.

Since the Tri-Cities event’s inception, nearly $150,000 has been raised for the National Fallen Firefighters Foundation. The proceeds benefit the FDNY Counseling Services Unit and the programs provided by the NFFF to support our nation’s fallen firefighters.

In the past, the event has been held in Kingsport, but due to the COVID-19 pandemic, it was moved to BMS on Saturday.

By relocating the vent to BMS, which provides an outdoor venue, and implementing procedures including hand sanitizing stations, social distancing and masks being worn in common areas, organizers said safety was at the forefront.

Catron, a Kingsport firefighter who has organized previous climbs, said the event at BMS gave people an opportunity to demonstration respect and admiration for those who gave their lives trying to save others. He said it shows that people will never forget.

BMS General Manager Jerry Caldwell said the venue was honored to serve as the location for this year’s climb.

“We are proud to do our part to help pay tribute and remember all of the men and women who selflessly gave their lives while trying to save others at the World Trade Center on that fateful September day in 2001,” Caldwell said.

Several local fire departments were represented Saturday, including the Bristol Tennessee Fire Department, the Avoca Volunteer Fire Department and Big Stone Gap Fire Department.

Organizers raised more than $18,000 for the event.

rsorrell@bristolnews.com | 276-645-2531

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