Sept. 06—Panama City Beach firefighter Terry Parris was at home when he watched hijackers crash a plane into the South Tower of the World Trade Center on Sept. 11, 2001.
"I was at my house. I had just gotten off a shift. I went home and laid down, and I was awakened by a phone call. I turned on the news and saw the plane hit the second tower," he said.
America lost more than 2,900 people, including first responders, civilians and military members as a result of the terrorist attacks.
Parris said he wants America to honor the lives lost that day and since then through his Panama City Beach 9-11 Memorial Stair Climb set for Saturday.
First responders, military members and civilians all are expected to climb 110 flights of stairs—the height of the World Trade Center Towers—at Edgewater Beach Resorts to commemorate the lives lost from 9/11 and the lives of first responders who protect the country.
"We remember the heroic efforts the first responders took that day," he said. "Without hesitation, the first responders jumped into action, as we do every day."
Parris said people from across the nation attend the annual event. Two years ago, 456 climbers participated in the stair climb. This year, Parris said he expects about 1,000 people to attend the event, and 150 volunteers already have signed up.
Stair climb events are held in Montgomery, Alabama; New Orleans and other areas.
Participants are asked to make a donation that will go to the National Fallen Firefighters Foundation and local first responder projects.
"We sponsor the Critical Incident Stress Management team, and we are sponsoring the area law enforcement canine dogs. We're purchasing first-aid and oxygen kits and bulletproof vests for the dogs, and anything we become aware of throughout the year."
Parris said 9/11 was a somber event for him.
"You know it was people doing the same job as you," he said. "Every day you go to work could be your last. We signed up for that. We as a first responder family made sure we'd never forget."
The Panama City Beach Stair Climb will begin at 10:30 a.m. Saturday at Edgewater Beach Resort, 11212 Front Beach Road, Panama City Beach. The opening ceremony will begin at 10 a.m. Registration will be held from 4-7 p.m. Friday and 8-9:30 a.m. Saturday. For more information, contact Parris at 850-819-1156 or at firstname.lastname@example.org.