All That Fits

A Weekly Column 
by Mary Wilson

September 12, 2019

I was in my dorm room at Northwest Missouri State when it happened. My roommate had just come in from the showers, and she said that everyone was telling her to turn on the news. That’s when we saw the second plane hit. In just a few minutes on the morning of September 11, 2001, the world as I knew it was forever changed.

Nearly 3,000 people did not come home that Tuesday night. Countless family members spent hours, days or weeks waiting for the dreaded inevitable news of their loved ones. Of the 2,977 killed in the attacks on September 11, 343 firefighters of the New York City Fire Department died while fulfilling their duties at the World Trade Center.

Since 2011, 343 firefighters annually from all across the metro have participated in the Kansas City 9-11 Memorial Stair Climb. This past Sunday, Sept. 8, 13 members of the Grandview Fire Department embarked on the 110-story climb at the Town Pavilion downtown. In full gear, the firefighters were supported by members of the community, coming together for a day of extreme physical challenge and intense reflection in a truly inspirational setting.

Together, the first responders honor New York’s bravest who sacrificed their lives on September 11, 2001, and they support the families in Kansas City who have suffered a line of duty death. Proceeds from the stair climb benefit S.A.F.E., the Surviving Spouse and Family Endowment Fund, which provides the comfort of financial support for the surviving spouses and dependents or, in their absence, the parents of sworn law enforcement officers, firefighters and emergency services personnel who lose their life in the performance of their duties.

Grandview Assistant Fire Chief Jim Toone participated in the climb for the first time this year. Upon arrival, each climber receives the name and description of one of the 343 fallen firefighters. On Sunday, Toone climbed in memory of Michael Roberts.

“It’s an honor to get to climb for another firefighter who didn’t get to come home on 9-11,” said Toone. “It brings, at least in part, a physical reminder of the lengths that 343 public servants took to reach those needing rescue. The event is physically exhausting and worth every step.”

Toone estimates that he, along with the other 342 participants, climbed 2,640 stairs. Almost a stair for each life lost on that horrific day. A sobering reminder of just how fortunate we are, and how grateful we should be to those who put their lives on the line for us each and every day. We will not forget. 

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Mary Wilson, editor of the Jackson County Advocate newspaper, grew up in the Grandview community. She currently serves on the Missouri Press Association Board of Directors and works as Development Coordinator for the Grandview Education Foundation. Previously, she served as president of Grandview Main Street and on the board of directors of the Kansas City Press Club. Her most important title is that of "Mom" to her teenage son. 
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