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Thu, Dec. 05

Students honor first responders
Annual lunch a tribute to heroes

Prescott Police Officers Joe Harris and Andrew Lovan with second-graders Braeden Crouse and Sophia Meza. (Nanci Hutson/Courier)

Prescott Police Officers Joe Harris and Andrew Lovan with second-graders Braeden Crouse and Sophia Meza. (Nanci Hutson/Courier)

Prescott police, firefighters and emergency medical technicians spent their lunch hour Wednesday with Abia Judd Elementary School pre-school to fourth-grade students.

Their presence was more than welcomed on the 18th anniversary of a historic day the children may not remember, but likely have been taught exemplified the first responder “heroes” willing to risk their lives to save others. On Sept. 11, 2001, 412 of the 2,977 victims were emergency workers in New York City who responded to the World Trade Center where two planes crashed into the buildings, prompting their catastrophic collapse.

This annual Abia Judd Heroes’ Lunch was launched by now-retired elementary school teacher Carol Yetman on the first anniversary of that tragic day that reverberated around the world. This year, one of Yetman’s former students, Taylor Lister who works with Lifeline Ambulance, was one of the guests.

“It’s a joy and a privilege,” said Yetman who coordinated the lunch for 70 first responders with a fellow Abia Judd retiree Jane Robertson. “I have police tell me they look forward to this every year … the looks on the faces of the first responders and the children — it’s a wonderful community connection.”

Student Jose Gomez said he thinks it’s a “pretty good day” when he and his classmates get to spend time with this community’s police, fire and emergency workers and thank them for always “helping out the world.”

“Without them, we might not be here,” Jose said.

Prescott police seemed to clearly enjoy spending time with the students in a nonemergency setting where they can build a bond of trust and friendship. And they appreciated the chance to pay homage to their fallen 9/11 brothers and sisters.

“It’s a blast,” declared Prescott Police Officer Joe Harris of the lunch where he and his colleagues were seated at a table with a lively, talkative group of second- to fourth-graders.

For Tito Munoz with Lifeline Ambulance, the luncheon was a way for both first responders and the school community to honor those who sacrificed all, and celebrate the value of a job that is all about “serving people.” He said he was impressed that so many of the students recognized and appreciated the importance of that day to their history.

“It impact them and it impacts us,” Munoz said.

To be recognized as one of this community’s heroes was clearly touching to Lister.

Beyond the fun they all had together, Lister said she appreciates the fact that the staff, gently, inform students about the significance of this date.

“It’s very important to remember the people who sacrificed their lives for ours,” Lister concluded.

Follow Nanci Hutson @HutsonNanci. Reach her at 928-445-3333 ext. 2041.

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