KANSAS CITY, Mo. — More than 300 firefighters converged Saturday in Kansas City, Missouri, to spend time over two days honoring those who lost their lives on Sept. 11, 2001.
Kevin Joles, the PIO for the Kansas City 911 Memorial Stair Climb, said the event, which typically features 343 climbers to represent the number of firefighters who died on 9/11, had to be adjusted for its 10th year due to the coronavirus pandemic.
“You can see it and you can hear it in the, in the climbers, in their attitude today and in their personalities today. It's a lot more solemn than it is in the past,” Joles said, “when you get to see people that you only get to see one time a year because we're so spread out. It's a joyous time to celebrate a terrible day in our past in our history. However, today is definitely different. It's got a different feeling about it.”
In addition to scaling back the number of volunteers, Joles said the 343 participants were divided over six heats on Saturday and Sunday at Tower Pavilion in downtown Kansas City, Missouri. Even with the changes, he said they know there still is a risk.
“These firefighters and paramedics and EMTs that work every day have an inherent risk with the patients that we deal with,” Joles said. “But we, we collectively came together as a giant group and, especially the stair climb committee, and decided to do it over the two days and the safest way possible.”
Staff at Tower Pavilion will clean staircases and handrails between each heat, and the number of people in the building “at any one time” is being limited to about 60, Joles said.