Karem Scott-Kotb, 33, walks down the steps of Ben Hill Griffin Stadium Wednesday as part of the 9/11 Memorial Stair Climb hosted by The Grit Foundation, UF Student Government and UF Collegiate Veterans Society. Participants climbed 1,980 steps, equivalent to the number of stairs in one of the World Trade Center buildings. About 300 people attended the event, which raised money for The Grit Foundation to buy equipment for local first responders.

More than 500 people gathered in Ben Hill Griffin Stadium on Wednesday to commemorate the 18th anniversary of the 9/11 attacks. 

The 9/11 Memorial Stair Climb is an annual event hosted by the UF Collegiate Veterans Society,  Student Government and The Grit Foundation. At the event, participants climb 1,980 steps, which is the equivalent to climbing one of the World Trade Center buildings. 

Bob Caudill, president of the UF Collegiate Veterans Society and a U.S. Army Veteran, said he has attended all three previous stair climbs. 

“Memorializing the first responders that lost their lives on 9/11 and also celebrating our local first responders is something that really strongly appealed to us,” Caudill said. 

He said the stair climb is something that connects the community and attracts people from around North Florida. 

Many of the participants wear weights or firefighter gear during the climb to simulate what if felt like for the first responders during the attack, Caudill said. 

The stair climb almost tripled in size from last year with 598 registered participants, compared to about 200 last year, said Hannah Parrish, The Grit Foundation manager of operations.

The Grit Foundation was able to raise $1,790 for local first responders, she said. 

Caudill said he hopes people who attended recognize those who lost their lives on 9/11 and celebrate the first responders. 

“We want people to get a chance to recognize the people who are running into burning buildings, the ones who are willing to make sacrifices to help their fellow human beings,” he said.