TROY — Hundreds of Miami County residents braved scattered showers to come together in remembrance of the nearly 3,000 lives lost on Sept. 11, 2001 during the second annual Freedom Climb at Troy Memorial Stadium on Sunday.
Approximately 110 participants pre-registered for the event, with many more registering on the day of the climb. The $25 admission included a commemorative t-shirt and a hot lunch, with all proceeds benefitting the National Law Enforcement Memorial Fund, the National Fallen Firefighters Foundation, the Troy Police Officer Association, and the Troy Fire Department.
The event was founded by Joe Stutz, retired sergeant for the Troy Police Department, along with son Zachary Stutz.
“When my dad was retiring, he was trying to find ways to stay active in the community,” Zachary said. “When he came up with this event, I backed him up and supported him. We’ve been able to do it through different organizations coming together.”
The event opened with a color-posting presentation by Honor Guard members from the Troy Fire Department and F.O.P. Lodge 58, the National Anthem, and a prayer led by Mayor Mike Beamish and Miami County Commissioner Greg Simmons.
Participants then climbed the stairs of Troy Memorial Stadium 64 times, equivalent to the 1,980 stairs that made up the 110-story height of the World Trade Centers. Participants also had the option of completing four laps around the stadium track to reach the same number of steps.
Each climber also wore the name, title, and photo of one of the 343 firefighters, 60 police officers, and 10 emergency medical technicians who perished during the events of 9/11.
“It’s one of the things that makes our event a little different,” Zachary said. “Each person gets to carry a first responder along with them.”
Stutz described the event as a way to maintain pride among Miami County residents in their country and in first responders both locally and nationally.
“In the months after 9/11, we had a strong sense of community,” Stutz said. “Everybody selflessly came together on what it meant to be an American. We’d like to continue that feeling of patriotism at our small event.”
Separate donations were accepted for Jason Holfinger, the Troy firefighter who passed away earlier this year, with proceeds being presented to Holfinger’s surviving wife and three children.
The event was made possible by support from Abbey Credit Union, Anytime Fitness, Can’t Stop Running, Harren’s Market, Kettering Health, Mercer Group, Miami Acres Animal Hospital, Optimist International, Troy Board of Education, Troy City Schools, Staples, and Storypoint.