Following the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, first responders showed the nation the price of their service.
The community honored that service at a luncheon Friday in the Trotter Convention Center with hundreds of first responders in attendance.
First responders — which include police officers, firefighters and paramedics — drifted in and out, briefly silencing their squawking scanners to eat barbecue sandwichs and beans.
A few even left early on calls, sirens blaring as they pulled out of the parking lot.
The on-the-go lunch emphasized the hectic schedule of first responders, who often work long-hours with little pay, said luncheon founder Mark Smith.
Smith, who is president of the human resources consulting firm CPI Group, said he was moved to pay tribute to Lowndes County first responders after he visited Ground Zero following the Sept. 11 attacks.
In her “Hear It From a First Responder” segment of the luncheon, Sheri Fancher, director of Columbus and Lowndes County E-911, said Sept. 11 gave people a “new perspective” about first responders.
“They often work 12 to 24 hours a day, sacrificing much, not for the pay but because they love what they do.”
As a token of the community”s support, Smith said the Lowndes Community Foundation has already raised $3,400 of the $10,000 goal for the First Responders Recovery Fund.
The fund will support first responders and their families during disasters, deaths, injuries and illnesses, he said.
Columbus Fire Department Chief Kenneth Moore said the community has shown “exceptional” support to their first responders, unlike some other areas across the state.
“The community supports their first responders and their first responders support the community,” he said. “It works both ways.”
The community, he added, has “a lot to be proud of.”
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