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Watch now: Mattoon climbers scale 110 flights at 9/11 memorial event

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MATTOON — Ervin Schlabach regularly exercises at the Mattoon Area Family YMCA for fitness and health, but he stepped onto a stair-climbing machine there Saturday morning with a different goal.

Schlabach, of Mattoon, was one of many community members who participated in the return of the annual 9/11 Memorial Stair Climb at the Mattoon Y and its Neal Center YMCA branch in Toledo on Saturday, the 20th anniversary of the 9/11 terrorist attacks.

Participants reserved time slots at both locations to climb the equivalent of 110 flights of stairs, which is the same number the first responders climbed on Sept. 11, 2001, in the World Trade Center towers in New York.

"It just makes me think about what they went through," Schlabach said as he took part in the climb for the first time.

Stair Climb participants

Charleston Police Department Detective Scott Workman, at left, and Mattoon resident Ervin Schlabach take part in the 9/11 Memorial Stair Climb on Saturday at the Mattoon Area Family YMCA.

At the Mattoon Area Family YMCA, four stair-climbing machines were placed in the front lobby for the event. Across the lobby from Schlabach, Pam Montgomery of Mattoon and her 15-year-old son, Thomas, were stepping through their 110 flights of stairs.

Montgomery said this was their first memorial stair climb, as well. She said she usually work out at the YMCA in the winter and her son attends summer activities there, so she appreciated being able to share the experience of the climb with him on Saturday.

Watch now: Coles County pays tribute to lives lost during Sept. 11 attacks

Thomas, a sophomore at Mattoon High School, said his teachers had talked frequently about 9/11 in the days leading up to the 20th anniversary. The student said he was glad to have the opportunity to be part of the YMCA's memorial event on that day.

"I think it's amazing," he said while climbing.

Stair Climb family

Mattoon High School sophomore Thomas Montgomery and his mother, Pam, take part in the 9/11 Memorial Stair Climb on Saturday at the Mattoon Area Family YMCA.

Those climbing stairs Saturday morning in the Mattoon Area Family YMCA's lobby also included Charleston Police Department Detective Scott Workman, dressed in blue in his full patrol uniform for the occasion. He also was a first-time participant in the memorial climb.

"I thought it would be something good to do to pay respect to those who were lost that day and honor their sacrifice," Workman said.

Contact Rob Stroud at 217-238-6861.


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Rob Stroud is a reporter for the JG-TC, covering the city of Mattoon, Lake Land College, Cumberland County and areas including Oakland, Casey and Martinsville.

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