Each year, as the calendar marks September 11, a reverent silence falls over many parts of America. In Arizona, this solemnity is complemented by a resolute act of remembrance and honor: the annual 911 Tower Challenge at the Desert Diamond Arena, 9400 W. Maryland Ave., in Glendale.

Set to take place on September 11 at 7 a.m., this monumental event aims to pay homage to the souls lost during the harrowing attacks in 2001. But it goes beyond that – it’s a tip of the hat, a salute, a deep bow to the indomitable spirit of first responders and military personnel who stand as a protective shield against both foreign and domestic threats.

The challenge itself is a resonant echo of the 110 floors and 2,071 steps that constituted the World Trade Center’s Twin Towers. Participants – firefighters, police officers, military personnel, and civilians – ascend the same number of stairs. What’s even more poignant is that many firefighters take on this task wearing their full gear, a moving tribute that brings to the forefront the enormity of the sacrifices made that day.

As participants climb, they are met with more than just physical steps. Lining their path are photographs of the fallen heroes from that fateful day. Each photo serves as a potent reminder of the individual lives lost, of dreams cut short, of families torn apart. These photographs aren’t just a recounting of a tragedy but a testament to bravery and selflessness. Participants often pause, even if for a brief moment, to read the names and acknowledge the sacrifice each individual made in the line of duty.

The 911 Tower Challenge isn’t just a tribute; it’s a beacon of hope, kindness, strength, and bravery that shone through during one of America’s darkest hours. Participation in the challenge is not just about climbing stairs but about climbing out of the shadow of grief and into the light of remembrance and respect.

All proceeds from the challenge will be channeled to The 100 Club of Arizona, an organization that stands as a pillar of support for the families of public safety officers and firefighters when tragedy strikes.

For more information, visit desertdiamondarena.com/events/detail/tower-challenge23.