Hotshot Girls throw a party for Yarnell
PRESCOTT - More than 100 people from as far away as Phoenix and Tucson turned out on Sunday to help support the Granite Mountain Hotshot Girls with a fundraising event for the town of Yarnell at the new Celtic Crossings location.
The wives, fiancées and other family members of the 19 fallen Hotshots pulled together the benefit in less than three weeks. The event drew in so many people the restaurant's parking lot quickly filled to capacity. Attendees had to park in the Home Depot parking lot and catch a shuttle down the hill to the event.
"We read about the benefit in the paper and decided to make a weekend out of it," said Tim Mendoza from Phoenix. "We wanted to do something for Yarnell and the Hotshots. This is a nice combination; we get to support both today."
The benefit featured a beer garden, raffles and a silent auction filled with an eclectic mix of more than 70 items, including a signed photo of heavy-metal shock rocker Alice Cooper and a hand-made Mata Ortiz clay vase.
Two auction items in particular had special references to Yarnell and the Hotshots - a Bushmaster A12 owned by Scott Norris, engraved with the firefighter emblem, and a wood vase crafted from a tree that burned in the wildfire by Yarnell resident Marco Cecala.
"We recognize their loss and we never felt anything negative towards anything that went to them (the families) because they don't have anyone coming home to them," Yarnell Hill Recovery Group chair Chuck Tidey said. "Our people lost their lives as far as their memories, but they have each other. We had no fatalities or injuries of our residents and for that, we thank them."
Local band Road One South and singer/songwriter Denise Roggio from Yarnell performed live at the benefit.
Roggio brought the crowd to tears during her performance of "Blazing Honor." While she wasn't planning on performing the song at the event, Roggio played the emotional piece after emcee Scott McKee, father of Hotshot Grant McKee, requested it.
"This is for the firefighters," McKee said. "Tears are okay here people. It's all part of the healing process."
In addition to helping raise money for Yarnell, the event brought the Hotshots' families face-to-face with some of the residents of the town.
"We're just now starting to meet some of the Yarnell people," Karen Norris, mother of Scott Norris, said. "That's the best part of this event for me, on top of the money that's going to them."
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