MYRTLE BEACH, S.C. (WBTW) — The Myrtle Beach Fire Department held their annual 9/11 memorial stair climb on Monday at the Yachtsman Resort.

Grand Strand first responders climbed more than 100 flights of stairs to honor those who lost their lives in the 2001 terror attacks.

The climb started at exactly 8:46 a.m., the same time that the first airplane hit the north tower of the World Trade Center.

“I’ll never forget it,” said Stephen Schuessler, a former MBFD lieutenant.

110 stories, the equivalent of floors in the World Trade Center, where hundreds of first responders lost their lives rescuing thousands of people who were trapped in the twin towers on Sept. 11, 2001.

“It’s something small that we can do to honor their memory by paying that ultimate sacrifice that they did that day,” said Daniel Perez, a Myrtle Beach firefighter.

Community members filled the parking lot, cheering the on as each time became more difficult.

One community member, Shelly Massimilla, vividly remembers the fear she felt. She watched proudly as her son, one of Myrtle Beach’s newest firefighters, made the climb.

“So, we moved here about two years ago from New York, so this is very real to us,” Massimilla said. “I remember my son was 4 years old when 9/11 hit. So, to be here today with that little boy, and watching him do this work, I can’t explain to you the pride I feel in my heart and my soul for this kid. This is amazing.”

One Myrtle Beach firefighter, Steven Waldron, was a police officer in New York at the time.

When helping people evacuate, he said he heard loud explosions. While turning to run away, he got caught in the first collapse of the tower.

“At that time, I told him this is probably a bad spot to be sitting in right now. We heard three loud explosions, turned to run away and we were actually caught in the first collapse of the tower,” Waldron said. “I was sitting in a hole that was probably two feet by two feet curled in a fetal position, able to dig myself out. I was lucky. I’m a firm believer that God’s got a plan for all of us.”

After completing the climb, each first responder was embraced by their fellow brothers and sisters. They said they were proud to do something small to honor the memories of the brave people who lost their lives.

The phrase “never forget” still holds true 22 years later.

Gracie is a multimedia journalist at News 13 and is from Cleveland, Ohio. Gracie joined the team in June 2023 after graduating from the University of Alabama in May 2023. Follow Gracie on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter & read more of her work here.