PANAMA CITY BEACH, FLA. (WMBB) — Firefighters from all throughout the Panhandle met at the Edgewater Beach Resorts on Saturday to honor the lives lost of first responders in 9/11. The event was the last one that organizer Terry Parris plans to hold. But for firefighters throughout the area, it was a great way to honor lives lost 20 years ago.
“This is really a fantastic thing to see all the first responders and children and adults climbing the stairs to honor and remember all those people who died that day,” Joseph Cocco, a retired Panama City Beach Battalion Chief said.
Besides the hundreds of first responders who climbed 110 stories — the same amount as the World Trade Towers — family members of firefighters scaled the resort as well. The walkers had to walk up and down five times to total 110 flights of stairs.
“We’re always thinking of our families and you know how important they are to us,” John Daly, a retired Panama City Beach Fire Chief said. “And so again it’s great that so many young people came out, and families, and did this together. I think it’s a great thing.”
It was also more exciting to honor the first responders this year since it will be the last event, Cocco said.
“I don’t know, since it’s the last one if I felt more pep in my step per se, but it definitely was more exciting to me,” Cocco said. “I think just knowing that this was going to be the last one, and this was the last opportunity to get together with all the first responders. And just honor and remember really.”
In addition to honoring lives lost, the event raises money for the National Fallen Firefighters Foundation. Some of that money also goes to the mental health counseling unit for the New York Fire Department.