Nearly 18 years after the horrific attacks on September 11 killed thousands, first responders gathered in Utica on Saturday to climb in their honor.
It was part of the fifth annual CNY Memorial Stair Climb. More than 400 firefighters, police officers, and EMT’s climbed 110 flights inside the Utica State Office Building, memorializing the first responders killed on 9/11.
"They climbed stairs to get up to the upper floors, not all of them climbed; you know a lot of them were on the floor, in the basement, stuff like that. But, by doing something a little bit more physically challenging, you really have to be dedicated to do it and understand why you're doing it,” said CNY Memorial Stair Climb Event Director Jeff Burkhart.
The event follows the timeline of September 11, 2001. At 8:46 a.m., the first wave of climbers are escorted into the State Office Building, marking the same time American Airlines Flight 11 crashed into the North Tower. Afterwards, there were periodic moments of silence to symbolize when another plane crashed and when the Towers collapsed.
In addition to climbing for those killed 18 years ago, participants also hoped to raise awareness for the responders still struggling today from 9/11-related illnesses.
Climbers from across New York, and five other states, participated Saturday.