CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- Everyone here has a story.

From people who lost loved ones in New York City, to the wars overseas.

The Tunnel to Towers event in Uptown at the Duke Energy Building was a way for hundreds to remember 343 firefighters who lost their lives in the 9/11 attacks.

"We just wanted to come out just to commemorate and celebrate those who died, fighting fire for our lives," says participant Erica Graham.

Participants climbed 50 stories. The money raised goes to fund smart homes for the most catastrophically injured service members.

Sgt. Rob Jones lost fourth of his legs while severing in Afghanistan back in 2010 when he was hit by an IED.

"When you're doing it for something bigger than yourself, that's what keeps you going," Jones says.

Some local responders carried oxygen tanks. Others carried people who couldn't do it alone including this man.

"For us, it was his race to recovery," says one participant. "He nearly died last year so it's our way back into racing and hopefully inspires other people to do things that they don't think they can do and accomplish greatness."

We are all here for one thing and that's to remember the legacy of those who were willing to give the ultimate sacrifice for the greater good of mankind.

Robert Poll was one of the many firefighters here this morning.

"If you look back on the days or weeks or months following 9/11, for once our country was united," Poll says. "We didn't have your, 'I'm White, you're Hispanic,' we didn't have any of that. We were united as a country. We are all Americans."

NBC Charlotte's very own Brad Panovich even took part this morning.

"We are running without all of the equipment so to run it without the equipment it'll be eye-opening to see," Panovich says.

Organizers say they expect more people next year and call today a big success.