Tucson honors those lost in 9/11 with Tower Challenge

9/11 Tower Challenge presses on despite pandemic

TUCSON, Ariz. (KOLD News 13) - Friday marked the 19th anniversary of the deadliest terror attacks in U.S. history.

Nearly 3,000 people died in New York, Pennsylvania and Washington D.C. in coordinated attacks by Al-Qaeda.

It has become a tradition for people all over the country to climb 2,071 steps to represent the 110 floors of the Twin Towers.

The 911 Tower Challenge Foundation hosts events, giving groups a large space to make those steps.

In Tucson, thousands typically gather at Arizona Stadium to participate, but because of COVID-19, plans changed.

To prevent large crowds from gathering, organizers asked participants to complete the steps on their own, however they could.

On Friday morning, a group of first responders came together in a downtown parking garage, making 20 trips up and down the stairs to complete the challenge.

“You just push through the pain. It’s a very, very small sacrifice to make, your time and your pain, to remember those people on that day,” said Mike Gamez, a police officer.

The Marana Police Department used Northwest Fire District’s training tower to complete the challenge.

The department posted photos and videos to social media along with the message, “We participate in this honor and memorialize the 2,996 people who lost their lives that day.”

“It’s a very humbling day,” said Shane Medlen, a paramedic and recruit training officer with Northwest Fire District.

Medlen said recruits and instructors also participated in a challenge.

“It makes you take some time to reflect and to really remember those who perished on 9/11 and lost their lives, and the 343 firefighters and 70 police officers who ran into the face of danger possibly knowing they weren’t going to come home,” Medlen said.

Tucson firefighters could be seen on Tumamoc Hill on Thursday, completing the challenge.

Tucson Fire Chief Chuck Ryan said, “Yesterday, I had the honor and privilege of participating in the 2020 version of the 9-11 Memorial Stair Climb alongside President Josh Campbell of Local 479 and other members of the Tucson Fire Department, clad in t-shirts showing our mission, we made our humble trek. I could not have been more proud of those with whom I walked. We will always remember."

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