Tower Challenge

First responders will wear gear for the Tower Challenge, honoring those who lost their lives on Sept. 11, 2001. (100 Club of Arizona/Submitted)

Phoenix-area first responders, military personnel and supporters of public safety will spend the morning of Saturday, Sept. 10, honoring the 415 emergency workers lost on Sept. 11, 2001, by climbing 2,071 stairs — matching the amount in each building of the Twin Towers.

The Tower Challenge will begin at 8 a.m. Sept. 10 at the Gila River Arena in Glendale. Proceeds from the annual event benefit the 100 Club of Arizona, a local nonprofit dedicated to serving Arizona’s first responders. Community members can register to participate at 100club.org/911tc2022.

“We won’t forget the men and women who have sacrificed their lives protecting us,” said Angela Harrolle, CEO of the 100 Club of Arizona. “Whether they died rescuing people at the World Trade Center in New York or making Arizona a safer place to live, our message to their families is that we see them, we understand their loss and we will never forget.”

Each year, thousands of people across Arizona walk, climb and run stairs in remembrance. Firefighters in full turnout gear, police, military and bomb squad personnel march steadily alongside civilians of varying ages, abilities and backgrounds. There are even virtual options for those interested to participate who can’t be at Gila River Arena in person.

In addition to the event in Glendale, similar Tower Challenge events will take place in Flagstaff and Tucson on Sunday, Sept. 11.

The morning will begin with a video reminding climbers of the sacrifices made on 9/11 and the people they are honoring. Photos of first responders lost in the attacks will line the pathway through the stairs.

Standing behind first responders

The 100 Club of Arizona, which benefits from the annual stair climb, is dedicated to helping Arizona’s first responders and their families.

The organization is best known for providing financial assistance to the families of first responders killed or injured in the line of duty.

The commitment of the 100 Club goes far beyond a one-time payment to families, however. The mission of the organization is to provide long-term support through annual retreats for surviving spouses and summer camps for children who have lost a parent in the line of duty.

The organization also assists with tuition expenses for preschool through college-age children and works to ensure the dependents of deceased first responders, including surviving spouses, can pursue higher education without any additional financial stress.

Survivors have access to a committee of experts who, at the survivor’s request, provide advice and counsel without cost or obligation. This includes CPAs, attorneys, trust officers, brokers, financial consultants, insurance agents and employee benefit consultants.

Preventing tragedies

In addition to helping survivors, the 100 Club is invested in protecting more than 27,000 first responders currently serving Arizona residents.

“We help families after a tragedy,” Harrolle said. “But our hope is that families never need us because their first responder comes home safe every night. So, we also work closely with donors and agency partners to prevent as many tragedies as possible through lifesaving equipment.”

The Safety Enhancement Stipend (SES) is a protective program providing financial support to law enforcement and fire departments to make them safer. In 2021, the Safety Enhancement Stipend program provided nearly $500,000 in safety equipment and training to law enforcement and fire departments throughout Arizona.

In addition, the 100 Club provides first responders, support staff and their families with access to free and confidential mental health support through the Bulletproof and Fireproof apps.

The apps provide comprehensive information and resources to help users with their mental health, physical goals, relationships and long-term financial stability. The apps were subsidized by a grant from the Bob and Renee Parsons Foundation.

To learn more about the 100 Club, how you can support its mission or to register to participate in the Tower Challenge, visit 100Club.org. PT