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Gem City 9/11 Memorial Stair Climb Helps Fallen Firefighters Foundation

This weekend was the 20th Anniversary of 9/11. Here in the Miami Valley, the day is marked by the annual Gem City 9/11 Memorial Stair Climb.

A large group of people gathered at the University of Dayton Arena on Saturday morning. They came to raise money for the National Fallen Firefighters Foundation and to climb a lot of stairs.

Lieutenant Jason Paoletti of Miami Township Fire-Rescue is one of the event’s organizers.

"We climb 110 floors, " he says. "That’s as far as they got in the Twin Towers to try to fight the fires and try to help people escape. I try to memorialize that in my head and think about them while I’m doing it."

Climbers wear badges with the photos and names of first responders who died on 9/11. After they finish the climb, they ring a bell and read the names on those badges.

Fire Chief Colin Altman hosts the event, which is in its eighth year, and he says ringing the bell is unforgettable.

"For me, and I think for a lot of people, it’s very emotional. I get choked up just thinking about it," he says. "You know, those guys just gave so much. Even if you’re not a firefighter, you’re carrying these guys through the whole thing, and it really hits home."

This year, the stair climb raised over $20,000 for the Fallen Firefighters Fund.