It takes a lot of stamina to make it up 140 flights of stairs. Especially if you’re carrying 70 pounds, more or les,s of extra weight and it’s a hot, late summer day.
That’s exactly what two Willcox firefighters did last Thursday, however. And they weren’t alone. Three Willcox police, including Police Chief Dale Hatfield, and 25 students of the Law Enforcement class, part of the Law and Public Safety Program at Willcox High School, ran up and down those stairs, too, although toward the end there wasn’t a lot of running.
It was all part of a 9/11 Tribute, organized by Officer Nick Williams, who teaches the law class at Willcox High.
“These kids weren’t even born when this happened,” he said. Williams was a freshman at Buena High School On Sept. 11, 2001.
As the 20th anniversary of 9/11 approached, Williams said he wanted a way to help his students understand what a huge event this was in the history of their nation. He also wanted his students to understand the sacrifice the first responders made that day.
“I want (these students) to know how big a deal (9/11) is and that we need to remember what happened and not forget that this could happen again,” Williams said. “We pray and hope that it doesn’t but this (tribute) is so the students know exactly what happened 20 years ago.”
To give the tribute context, Williams prepared a presentation, featuring photos of the destruction. He also included the times the towers, the Pentagon and the Shanksville, Pennsylvania, field were hit and when the towers collapsed.
Not everyone went 140 flights and not everyone was wearing full firefighter’s turnout, the oxygen kit and protective clothing firefighters wear when doing their job.
“The Twin Towers were 110 (flights) so that was the goal, if you can get close to that,” Williams said.
Just how many stairs are in a flight? In the case of Willcox High’s south side staircase, 26.
It wasn’t a competition but National Guardsman Tom Halverson came in at 110 flights. Willcox High senior Andrew Stamps did 80 flights, but he had two class periods to complete his run, according to Williams. Junior Seth Verdugo made it 62 flights and senior Jaciel Chanez made it 66 flights, both in one class period.
Det. Sgt. Jericho Valle of the Willcox Police Department ran 80 flights. Former Willcox policeman Clay Cook did 53. Hatfield, who ran 40 flights, was actually more focused on the students. He saw how hard they worked.
“I was proud of them,” he said.