3rd Annual 9/11 Stair Climb a Success

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PANAMA CITY BEACH - Hundreds from around the country gathered in Panama City Beach to honor those that gave the ultimate sacrifice on September 11, 2001 - climbing 110 stories at the Laketown Wharf Condominiums.

"It kind of gives you an idea of what the responders had to deal with at the Twin Towers," said Sgt. Chad King with the Bay County Sheriff's Office. "It's just a small percentage of what they experienced that day and I think it's appropriate."

Before the climb, organizers read a letter from the brother of a firefighter killed that day.

"Tell your climbers after about the 20th, 50th, or 100th floor, when their backs and knees are aching to remember the words of Capt. Billy Burke, Engine 21, FDNY. 'Keep going, I'm right behind you' Sincerely Michael Burke."

Service men and women from around the country participated, pledging to never forget the lives lost that day.

"They're my brothers," said Craig Robarts, firefighter with the Panama City Beach Fire Rescue. "Ultimately we share a bond whether I knew them personally or not."

While most firemen only wore their gear, some chose to carry hoses, others even wearing a gas mask.

"The guys that went up on 9/11 - they may not have been on air," said Jonathan Cicio, firefighter with the Gainesville Fire Department, "but they were ready to go too."

"Just when you think the public doesn't care about us, you have an event like this and they come out in droves. 353 climbers, probably 500 or 600 people watching and taking part and just coming together," said organizer Lt. Terry Parris with the PCB Fire Rescue. "It's just very emotional."

This year's climb raised over $17,000.

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