GOLDSBORO – Wayne Community College's Public Safety Division will hold its annual 9/11 Stair Climb on Saturday to mark the 20th anniversary of the terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center.
WCC emergency medical and law enforcement students and their instructors will climb the equivalent of 78 stories (38 laps on a "track" of stairwells and breezeways between buildings) to honor those who lost their lives on Sept. 11, 2001.
The participants will pay tribute to the 403 public safety personnel – 343 New York City Fire Department firefighters, 23 New York City Police Department officers and 37 Port Authority Police Department officers - who died in the line of duty that day.
The 78 flights replicate the effort made by firefighters and the signify the highest floor they were able to reach in the South Tower before it collapsed.
Members of the public are invited to attend to encourage the participants.
WCC Paramedic Instructor David Cuddeback initiated the run and leads the students in the memorial exercise every year.
"Remembering and honoring those who sacrificed their lives is important and we are going to do as it should be done," Cuddeback said.
The first portion of the event during which the students will be indoors will be streamed live on the college's Facebook page (@wayneccnc). During that time participants are given their charge, choose the person in whose name they will climb, suit up including full turnout gear for some and gather for a prayer.
That will begin at 9 a.m.
Having the students thinking about specific individuals while experiencing some of what they did, drives home the concept of selflessness, Cuddeback said.
"As soon as the students come out, they begin the circuit. They help each other when the going gets rough by taking others' gear and giving moral support," said WCC Public Information Officer Tara Humphries.
"It is incredibly moving to witness. I recommend that those who can come out for it do so, even if for just a few minutes. Plus, the students appreciate the encouragement they get from those on the sidelines."
Some paramedic students will wear turnout gear and carry equipment such as tanks and hoses that add 50 to 75 pounds to their bodies. Law enforcement students wear their protective vests.