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Forsyth County honors heroes lost during 9/11 at 5th annual Stair Climb
stair climb
Forsyth County Fire Explorers climb the equivalent of 110 stories during the 5th annual 9/11 Stair Climb hosted by VO2 Personal Training at West Forsyth High School. - photo by Sabrina Kerns

Community members from all over Forsyth and surrounding counties climbed the stairs of West Forsyth High School's stadium on Sunday, Sept. 11, walking the equivalent of 110 stories in honor of the 412 first responders who died on the same day 21 years ago.

Sara and Troy Zapp, owners of VO2 Personal Training, hosted the fifth annual Stair Climb, welcoming a crowd of more than 200 participants.

“Being from New York and having several firefighters in our family, this event means a lot to us,” Troy said. “This has been a great event that we’ve gotten to do for the last five years now. This has just gotten bigger, and the community support has been so amazing.”

Before starting the event, Troy thanked the crowd for buying a ticket or T-shirt to participate and donating to their chosen nonprofit this year, the B.A.D.G.E. fund.

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stair climb
Community members climb the equivalent of 110 stories during the 5th annual 9/11 Stair Climb hosted by VO2 Personal Training at West Forsyth High School. - photo by Sabrina Kerns

Organized through the Forsyth County Sheriff’s Office, the B.A.D.G.E. fund gives back to first responders in the county and their families “to restore confidence, hope and peace of mind through financial and other support when unforeseen or unwelcome circumstances enter their lives.”

But more than the financial support, Troy said he loves seeing the community physically climbing the 110 stories, representing the height of the World Trade Center, as a remembrance to the 412 first responders and 343 firefighters who died while trying to save lives during 9/11.

Many of this year’s participants were first responders themselves, working as a law enforcement officer, firefighter, EMT or other emergency personnel.

Firefighters from DeKalb, Dawson, Forsyth and Gwinnett counties all climbed side-by-side, each wearing their heavy equipment and the name of a first responder who died during the attacks.

stair climb
Going into West Forsyth's stadium, participants walked past framed photos depicting the aftermath of the 9/11 attacks. - photo by Sabrina Kerns