Honoring 9/11 first responders with a memorial stair climb at UCHealth Park

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COLORADO SPRINGS — On Friday morning, dozens of first responders came out to UCHealth Park to commemorate the lives lost during 9/11.

“Those first responders that lost their lives were a huge toll and those that serve want to honor those and remember those names,” said organizer and firefighter Chad Ortuba.

Service members from across the Pikes Peak Region climbed more than 1,900 stairs to commemorate 9/11. The climb started at 8:46 a.m the same time the first plane hit the World Trade Center.

Leading the climb was Sergeant First Class Matthew Wheeler with the 59th Military Police Company at Fort Carson. Wheeler lost his wife’s cousin Eric Cranford during the attack on the Pentagon.

“I talked to my wife when she found out her cousin perished that day and I assume in her mind a tragic loss,” said Wheeler.

He and so many others remember the exact moment they were at when America came under attack despite it happening 19 years ago.

“Walking into the fire station and hearing silence everyone was standing around the T.V.,” said Ortuba.

“[I Remember] being a freshman in high school and getting notifications that moms and dads were coming and pulling us out making sure we are safe,” said Wheeler.

They say Friday’s physical testament was a tribute and honor those who took the same steps 19 years ago and made the ultimate sacrifice.

“Pounds of rubble and metal coming down in seconds it was a life changing event,” said Ortuba.

Some of the first responders at the climb were born after the attacks, Wheeler and Ortuba want the generation who didn’t watch 9-11 unfold, to never forget.

“It’s a turning point, in our country and lives and even though they don’t feel the immediate effects of this, they will remember this for their lives,” said Wheeler.

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