Photo by Sayer JaDin Lockhart
Leah Priem of Hot Springs carries the flag while participating in last year’s 9/11 Grand Stair Challenge.
HOT SPRINGS – As dawn breaks each September 11th in Hot Springs, people gather at the foot of Battle Mountain Grand Staircase to climb the 141-steps, once, twice or many times (15 times up and down represents climbing one World Trade Tower.)
Inherent in the climb is recognition of courageous and honorable first responders who run into the face of danger, wherever and whenever they serve.
This year, by happy accident, the Midwest Regional division of Blue Knights International Law Enforcement Motorcycle Club will hold their Fall Conference in Hot Springs from September 10 to 13. In their honor, Challenge Dakota dedicates their 7th annual 9/11 Grand Stair Challenge to active and retired law enforcement officers.
“We anticipate 150 to 250 members will enjoy Hot Springs and the Black Hills,” said Frank Bergmark, President of the Nebraska 1 chapter hosting the conference. “In addition to Hot Springs’ 9/11 Grand Stair Challenge, we plan a bus tour to Mount Rushmore’s lighting ceremony on 9/11, individual rides, a business meeting, a banquet and a motorcycle safety class.”
A Blue Knight will carry the American flag, leading the traditional 6:46 a.m. Flight of Silence from the foot of Battle Mountain Grand Staircase. Plans are in the works for an honor procession and community cruise. Any active duty or retired law enforcement officer who rides motorcycles is encouraged to contact organizers to join the procession.
Proceeds from the Blue Knights’ conference go to charity, which in the past included local schools, support for Blue Knights suffering personal loss, and purchase of flags for the Nebraska Law Enforcement Memorial.
Organizers encourage everyone to attend this event every year.
“Our motto is ‘Strong People, Strong Country’,” explained Challenge Director Dusty Pence. “Climb if you can, but come regardless, to remember the heroes and victims of 9/11.
“We ask you to rise early one day, come to the staircase to climb, support or remember, honoring those courageous souls who push fear to the background, rise to their oaths, and risk their own security and that of their families for strangers.”
Although you may sign up at the free event, organizers encourage you to sign the disclaimer at GetMeRegistered.com/911GrandStair now, to reduce congestion. Optional donations of $25 and up, received by September 1, earn a commemorative shirt, which includes the law enforcement dedication. Challenge Dakota earns $1.00 from an anonymous donor for each flight you climb.