CONVERSE, Texas – The COVID-19 pandemic has forced many events to be cancelled or held virtually this year, including one honoring the 343 first responders who lost their lives in response to the terrorist attacks at the World Trade Center.
In previous years, the Converse Fire Department climbed the stairs at the Tower of the Americas as part of San Antonio 110′s 9/11 Memorial Climb. Due to COVID-19 precautions, the event was held virtually, encouraging registered participants to plan a tribute challenge.
Converse Fire Chief, Luis Valdez opted to continue with the traditional stair climb, with limited capacity.
The City of Converse partnered with the Judson Independent School District in order to host Friday morning’s event at the D.W. Rutledge Stadium with first responders dressed in full gear.
“We said we wouldn’t forget and we’ll always remember them, even in a pandemic," Valdéz said. “We are thinking about each one of the fire fighters and what was going on in their head and the bravery and courage it took."
Participants climbed 110 flights of stairs for an hour and a half and stopped to commemorate when the towers collapsed, when the Pentagon was struck, and when Flight 93 crashed.
Joining the local first responders was the Mayor of Converse, Al Suárez. Suárez also wore the fire fighter uniform as he climbed up and down the stadium stairs.
“To be able to have an opportunity to honor those who gave their lives on September 11, 2001, absolutely we’re going to do it," Suárez said. "It gives me (an idea) of what the firefighters are feeling. I’ll do it with them. I did train for today.”
Converse first responders said they’re thankful to have a leader show support in this manner.
Participants maintained physical distance throughout the event. Valdez said he hopes the stair climb at the local stadium in Converse becomes an annual event open to the community.