(WJHL) — The attack on the U.S. happened back in 2001, but the families of the first responders who died are still suffering.
Kingsport firefighter Andrew Catron participated in Memorial Stair Climbs to honor and remember the fallen, but it wasn’t enough. So, he organized one in the Tri-Cities and it’s become one of the top-earning stair climbs in the country.
The 9/11 Memorial Stair Climb is a creative way to remember and honor first responders who died the day the World Trade Center and Pentagon were hit. Memorial Stair climb fundraisers started in different areas of the country, but after participating in other cities, Catron brought the climb to the Tri-Cities.
During a stair climb event, participants climb the equivalent of the 110 floors of the World Trade Center. They carry a tag bearing the name of a fallen 9/11 first responder as a reminder of their sacrifice, all while listening to scanner traffic from that day as they climb…just as that rescuer did.
“We want them to know they are making a difference by remembering that individual,” Catron said.
Catron’s personal connection to one of the rescuers inspired him. After Hurricane Sandy, he and a team went to the devastated area to help out and stayed at the home of one of the fallen rescuers.
“We actually stayed in one of the firefighter’s houses that died on 9/11, Steven Coakley,” he said. “Staying in the house that the family still kept, I always go back to that.”
That drive to keep the lost from being forgotten, and keeps Catron energized to build on the almost $180,000 raised so far, and inspire others to climb.
“There was a truck driver, I believe he was from Cincinnati, and he was driving by the race track and he’s a military veteran,” Catron remembers. “He saw the event so he pulled up and walked up in jeans and a t-shirt and said, ‘I want to climb.'”
It’s those stories that convince Catron he is keeping the spirit of the fallen alive.
“Every year we hear those stories that just make you feel good about what you’re doing, and you know you’re making a difference, Catron said.”