Last Monday, I had the pleasure of volunteering at the the First UF 9/11 Memorial Stair Climb at Ben Hill Griffin Stadium by handing out water bottles and keeping an eye on participants’ health to insure their safety.

This event memorializes the 343 firefighters who lost their lives on September, 11th 2001 by climbing the equivalent of the 110 stories of the World Trade Center. This event was hosted by Kaleb Griffel and Brett Surles of the University of Florida Collegiate Veteran Society and included guests from the Gainesville Fire Rescue and Alachua County Fire Rescue. The event started with 343 seconds of silence to commemorate those lost in the line of duty, followed by eleven ascents of the west side of Ben Hill Griffin Stadium, 1,980 steps up in total.

First responders are a vital part of our society. When we are most in need, we look for the people who run towards the problems from which most people would run away. As you read this, there are a dedicated corps of people you might never meet who are waiting for the call I am glad I have never had to make. We owe first responders a debt of gratitude, and as your county commissioner I will ensure that they have the support they need to provide for the public’s safety.

was excited to see how many members of the community came out to support this event, with over 100 people either doing the steps themselves or providing encouragement and bottles of water to those who were. This is the first time this event has been held in Gainesville, and I hope it will grow next year. I heard plans to use it as a fundraiser for the local fire rescue next year if possible. You can be sure that I will be there if I am able, and I hope you will all join me as well.