The Twin Towers in New York before the 9/11 attacks

The World Trade Center buildings before the attack

Jerry Trudell the Skys the Limit/Getty Images

Stepping Up to Honor Heroes

Meet a kid who took steps to remember brave men and women on the 20th anniversary of 9/11.

Sophia Goran wasn’t born until years after September 11, 2001, which is also known as 9/11. But like many other people, this 9-year-old and her family think that date is very important.

Sophia’s dad is a firefighter where they live in Columbia, Missouri. Sophia knows that firefighters and other first responders made incredible sacrifices that day.

A Tragic Day

On 9/11, terrorists attacked places in the United States, including the World Trade Center buildings in New York City. Brave emergency workers climbed the stairs of those burning skyscrapers. It was dangerous, but they wanted to help the people inside. Sadly, more than 2,600 people died when the buildings collapsed.

Woody Marshall/Greensboro News & Record

This stair climb took place in a parking structure in Greensboro, North Carolina.

A Climb to Remember

Sophia recently found a way to honor the 343 firefighters who died that day trying to help others.

She took part in a 9/11 Memorial Stair Climb. It’s an event where people climb about the same number of stairs as there are in 110 floors of a building. That was the number of floors in each of the World Trade Center buildings.

Many communities hold these events across the country. Hundreds of people participate, or take part, in states like North Carolina, Colorado, California, and Florida.

Some events are held in office buildings. Other stair climbs use parking garages or sports stadiums.

“My parents run the event in Columbia,” Sophia told Scholastic News. “My brother, Jeffrey, and I climbed this year.”

Woody Marshall/
Greensboro News & Record

Each person wore the name of a firefighter who died on 9/11. That helps to keep the memory of those people alive.

“I climbed for Stanley Smagala Jr.,” Sophia says. “When I was done, I rang a bell in his honor.”

Sophia plans to take part in the event again next year. She thinks more communities should start having the events too.

“I think it would be really nice for kids to do it,” Sophia says. “You feel good about climbing for one of the fallen first responders, and I like that feeling.”

1. Why did emergency workers climb the World Trade Center stairs on 9/11 even though it was dangerous?

2. According to the article, what do participants wear during a 9/11 Memorial Stair Climb? Why?

3. What can you learn from the map on page 4?

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