By Brandi Makuski
Local firefighters on Thursday took in a large donation of brand new shoes for a 9/11 memorial display scheduled to take place this weekend.
Fire departments across the state began taking shoe donations in August, hoping to collect 351 pairs of shoes to represent the 343 firefighters and eight EMTs who lost their lives on 9/11.
Rogan’s Shoes donated 200 pairs of shoes for the cause on Sept. 9.
The shoes will be put on display at the Wisconsin State Firefighters Memorial in Wisconsin Rapids for this Saturday’s 9/11 memorial program.
“They represent each pair of shoes left at the stations when firefighters and EMTs responded to the site of the World Trade Center attacks on September 11, 2001,” said Plover Fire Chief Mark Deaver.
Deaver said every fire department is responsible for helping maintain the Memorial.
“We take turns taking care of it, cleaning the grounds, maintaining it,” Deaver said this week.
Members of the Plover and Stevens Point fire departments were on hand Thursday morning to collect the shoes. After Saturday’s display, Deaver said the shoes will be donated to the Wisconsin Veterans Home at King.
Plover is also preparing for its own 9/11 memorial program, which begins Saturday morning at 8:46 a.m.—the time of the first airplane strike on the North Tower of the World Trade Center. Afterward, snacks and refreshments will be provided in the fire department bay.
The program will feature guest speaker Shane Beversdorf, an employee of Sentry Insurance who was near Ground Zero in New York on Sept. 11, 2001.
Plover Deputy Fire Chief Ken Voss said several businesses stepped up to offer donations to help make the department’s program possible. Along with Rogan’s, Dollar General, Lowe’s, and Dunkin Donuts are among those that have donated goods or services to help with 9/11 memorial ceremonies.
“It always leaves you with a good feeling during through times to see people step up, it shows how generous our community is,” Voss said.