Orange County crews honor first responders in 2001 attacks in 343 Hero Challenge

Heroes honor first responders in sixth annual competition

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ORANGE COUNTY, Fla. – Orange County firefighters and athletes will take part in the sixth annual 343 Hero Challenge next month, named after the 343 firefighters who lost their lives on Sept. 11, 2001. 

"We are just trying to remember them by remembering what they lost and what they went through," Orange County firefighter Doss Bozeman said.

Bozeman also coordinates the exercise stations at the three-event competition. 

Participants will gear up with oxygen tanks, fire hoses and sandbags and step up on boxes for three minutes and 43 seconds, representing the 110 floors the first responders had to climb inside the World Trade Center. Another team will also be tasked with carrying a stretcher loaded up with more weight, symbolizing the thousands of victims who were saved. 

Bozeman said it's more than just a physical challenge, it's emotionally challenging, too. 

"In our first event, we usually hang pictures from 9/11," he said, with tears welling up in his eyes. "When you are sitting there and you are doing the 3:43 minutes of step-ups, you actually can envision walking down the streets of New York and making your way to those towers. It's emotional."

Not only is it emotional, though. He said it's essential in remembering the lives lost not just on that day 17 years ago but every day since. 

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