September 5, 2020 7:01:15 PM
West Point firefighter Leon Kelley knows where he will be on the 19th anniversary of 9/11 terrorist attacks that altered the world. He will be in the West Point High School football stadium, in full firefighter gear, climbing more than 2,000 steps in September's heat to honor the memory of lives lost that day. He'll be one of many first responders and community members taking part in the North Mississippi Medical Center-West Point Wellness Center 9/11 Memorial Stair Climb.
The event remembers the almost 3,000 people who perished, including 343 New York City firefighters. Kelley is also a trainer and fitness instructor at the Wellness Center.
"It's a really big deal, a way for me to honor the firefighters and police officers and all the medical staff who lost their lives, to show some kind of gratitude and some kind of appreciation for what they've done," said Kelley.
Wellness Center fitness instructor Becky Brabham said, "We wanted to honor the memory all the rescue people that were lost that day and all the others that perished. It's in honor, too, of all those (first responders) who are still with us."
Beginner exercisers are encouraged to walk an extra 2,071 steps while veteran exercisers are challenged to climb 2,071 steps -- representing the number of steps in each of the 110-floor World Trade Center towers in New York.
Participants are asked to park behind the West Point High School field house and enter through the nearby south gate. The school is located at 950 S. Eshman Ave.
The gate will be open from 8:15-9 a.m. for registration and temperature checks. Wear a mask to enter and during temperature check; masks may be removed after checks. Participants are asked to maintain a proper distance from others for everyone's safety. The event starts at 9:11 a.m.
"This is a simple way to express appreciation and to give back," said Kelley. "We want to get as many people involved as we can."
Commemorative T-shirts will be available for $12 at the West Point Wellness Center, 185 Medical Center Circle, and on site the day of the event.
For more information, call 662-495-WELL (9355).
Jan Swoope is the Lifestyles Editor for The Commercial Dispatch.