TUPELO, Miss. (WTVA) - A Tupelo firefighter and his wife reflected on his career at the Tupelo Fire Department and the annual event that remembers 9/11 and lives lost that day.
"I didn't feel like I was fulfilling my calling until 9/11," Captain Kelly Monts said. He added that is the day he decided to become a firefighter and give back to his community.
"It took me about a year to get on the Tupelo Fire Department," Capt. Monts said. "And once I did, I felt my calling was fulfilled. I just enjoy helping people."
"As with all first responders, they have a passion to help people and I see that with my husband," Melinda Monts said. She is the organizer of the annual 9/11 Memorial Stair Climb.
This year, the event will take place at the BancorpSouth Arena.
"The stair climb is a tribute to the fallen first responders from 9/11," Melinda said. "There were 343 firemen, 72 law enforcement and eight EMTs who lost their lives at Ground Zero that day."
"It gets tougher every year, but it's very solemn," Capt. Monts said. "You go back to that moment and you think about all those guys and ladies running in and doing their job trying to help. I'm sure that they knew that there was a possibility that they weren't coming home, but they went anyways."
Participants will go around the arena three times, which is equivalent to the height of 110 stories which was the World Trade Center's height. During the stair climb, there are a few moments to symbolize the events that happened that morning. First, firefighters will wear a badge in memory of a fallen first responder. And second, there are two moments of silence, when the airplanes hit the towers and when the towers fell.
Some firefighters will even participate in full gear.
"The reason they choose to climb in full gear is to be symbolic of the firemen who were climbing the 110 stairs at the World Trade Center that day," Melinda said.
"It's very challenging," Capt. Monts said.
More than 20 fire departments across Mississippi will participate on Saturday. There will be a walk-up registration for anyone wanting to participate. The cost is $40.
Melinda also stressed that this is not a timed event. It can be done at one's own pace.
People are able to watch the event at no cost.
It will start at 9:11 a.m.