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Houghton firefighter climbs stairs to honor 9/11 victims

Garrett Neese/Daily Mining Gazette Cory Lightfoot, a member of the Houghton Police Department, walks the steps of the Macinnes Ice Arena Friday to commemorate the first responders who climbed the stairs of the World Trade Center to rescue victims on 9/11.

HOUGHTON — 1,980 steps.

That’s what it takes to equal the 110 stories of the World Trade Center, where first responders climbed up on Sept. 11, 2001 to rescue people trapped inside.

For the past four years, Houghton firefighter Cory Lightfoot spent 9/11 in Green Bay, where thousands walk the stairs at Lambeau Field.

COVID-19 made that impossible this year. So Friday, as a hockey scrimmage went on below, he did it at the MacInnes Ice Arena.

“We used to practice here for it, so this is where I decided to come do it,” he said.

Of the nearly 3,000 who died in New York on 9/11, more than 400 were first responders.

Walking the steps takes about two-and-a-half hours, Lightfoot said. (The walk back down also doesn’t count toward the total.)

Lightfoot said he makes the climb to remember them and finish the climb some of them never got to complete.

“It hits close to home, because you realize that morning they put their gear on, like we all do, and expected to make it through that day, and they didn’t,” he said. “It reminds you of the dangers of the job, but it also makes you proud to be a firefighter that does that for the community.”

Lightfoot hopes to be able to go back to Lambeau next year, which also raises hundreds of thousands of dollars for the Fallen Firefighters Fund. Firefighters also get to wear a badge honoring one of those who died in the line of duty on 9/11.

“It gives you goosebumps,” Lightfoot said. “When you see about four or five thousand people climbing the stairs, it’s awe-inspiring.”

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