Firefighters climb stairs in remembrance of 9/11

Myrtle Beach firefighters at the opening ceremony of their 9/11 event / Lindsey Theis

At 8:46 a.m. Sunday, the moment 10 years ago when the first plane struck the first World Trade Center tower, firefighters and others gathered at the Yachtsman Resort on Ocean Boulevard in Myrtle Beach to pay tribute to the victims of 9/11.

At 9:03 a.m., the moment 10 years ago when the second plane struck the first World Trade Center tower, Myrtle Beach firefighters began a stair climb to honor the 343 firefighters who died in the September 11th attacks.

The stair climb was a symbolic tribute. One by one the firefighters climbed 111 flights of stairs, each of them carrying the name of a firefighter killed in the World Trade Center collapse.

"The last one was probably the toughest," said firefighter Richard LaPera.

The firefighters climbed the stairs in full turnout gear.

"They didn't have the option then to take off their gear and to go slower, so it puts in in perspective how much work they had to do," said Leslie Covalli.

Her boyfriend, Adam Oleszkowicz, of the Myrtle Beach fire department was among those making the climb.

"It's great to see all the support out there," he said.

Between 200 and 300 people gathered to watch, many simply passing tourists who stopped as they passed by. They clapped and cheered as the firefighters made their climb.

LaPera, a retired member of the New York Police Department was there on September 11th, 2001.

About today, he says "The fact that people were here to push us, support us. I hope they never forget the 343 fireman that were lost in the World Trade Center, 23 NYPD cops."

The 9/11 Memorial Stair Climb was organized by the Myrtle Beach Fire Department and the Grand Strand Running Club, which earlier in the day hosted a walk/run to benefit the National Fallen Firefighters Foundation, the Stephen Siller Foundation and USACares.