BRISTOL, Tenn. — Three hundred and forty-three people climbed the stairs at Bristol Motor Speedway on Saturday to remember the tragic terrorist attacks on Sept. 11, 2001.
At 9:30 a.m., men and women began climbing the towers and stands at the speedway. Some wore their fire, police and emergency medical uniforms. Others wore military attire, fitness outfits and T-shirts and shorts.
The climb followed a short opening ceremony in honor of the terrorist attacks, when 343 firefighters died at the World Trade Center in New York City. First responders and various other teams stood in groups at the speedway’s north entrance parking lot.
Each participant carried an identification tag with a photo and a name of a firefighter who perished when the buildings collapsed, according to Andre Catron, a Kingsport firefighter and organizer of the Tri-Cities Memorial Stair Climb.
This was the second year that the event was held at the speedway. Last year, due to COVID-19 restrictions, the climb moved from Kingsport to the speedway.
Participants climbed an equivalent of the 110 floors of stairs firefighters climbed in 2001.
“It was challenging to say the least. But nothing compared to what the victims of 9/11 must have experienced,” Jessica Page said following the event.
Page shared her thoughts on the Bristol Herald Courier Facebook page.
“I was honored to be a part of this memorial fundraising event,” she wrote. “Proud of Bristol for allowing it and the speedway for hosting it.”
During the grueling climb, a person announced whenever a key event happened during the terrorist attacks, such as when a building was struck by an airplane or when it collapsed. Participants also got to see photos of all of the fallen firefighters posted along the climb route.
Catron said the event gives local residents an opportunity to pay tribute to those lost on 9/11. Several participants said they planned to go home later on Saturday to research the individual they were representing.