COLLIER COUNTY, Fla. — Sunday marked the 21st anniversary of the September 11 attacks, and as a way to remember those who passed away, multiple events were held throughout Southwest Florida.
One of them is hosted by local non-profit Brotherhood Ride and Florida Gulf Coast University's Pike Fraternity. Together, the two teamed up to host their first annual 9/11 Memorial Stair Climb.
Participants could choose from three events to compete in as long as they register with a donation of at least a dollar. The events are a 30 and 50 mile bike ride, a 110-flight stair climb and a car rally.
“21 years later we still remember those heroes that went in when everybody was rushing out.”
On this September 11th, footsteps can be heard as droves of people climb their way up to the top of the Naples Grande Beach Resort.
“Anybody can write a check, make a donation, or remember what happened but I think when you put a little sweat behind it it means a little more to the families,” says Jeff Morse, President and Founder of Brotherhood Ride and Battalion Chief with North Collier Fire Department.
It’s in honor of those who lost their lives 21 years ago. Coordinated by local nonprofit Brotherhood Ride and Florida Gulf Coast University’s Pike fraternity. With each round complete with the sound of a bell.
And some carry the image of one of those first responders who made the climb up, knowing they might not make it back down.
"Orio Palmer was one of the first guys to enter into the towers and he was the one up the highest," says Morse. "He was up to floor 74 treating casualties and giving radio announcements and getting evacuations going from those floors. Unfortunately, he didn’t make it out of the towers and I’m honoring him today.”
On the other side of Collier County, just a twenty minute drive away, a commemorative service at the Golden Gate Government Center.
“It killed 343 firefighters, 60 police officers and a host of others," said Fire Chief Nolan Sapp with the Greater Naples Fire Rescue. "We have to honor their service and this is just one way in which we do that.”
And at the Waterside Shops, a remembrance blood drive. Where one particular donor has significant ties to the day.
“I was visiting New York City and I was there during 9/11," said Cathy Grassi, who helped start the NCH Remembrance Blood Drive. "When I came back, I was working here at Waterside Shops and I wanted to do something- well we all wanted to do something- to honor those that lost their lives and all the first responders.”
Together, with NCH, Grassi started the annual tradition. Giving back anyway she could.
"Those people woke up every morning, like we do, expecting to live their lives and then this terror attack came. I think we need to remember them and never forget the sacrifices that they made.”
Showing that no matter the event, there’s always time to remember.
"When it gets tiring on the stairwell," says Morse. "We just remember that at least we’re here to honor them and we push through.”