Local first responders were treated to lunch on Saturday, while others lunched to help raise money — all in hopes of never forgetting those who died in the terror attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, and in support of those who protect America daily.
It was more than just a typical sunny afternoon at Island Times Bar and Grill on Saturday, for the sixth annual Never Forget 9/11 Memorial Fundraiser. Members of law enforcement, firefighters, paramedics and active and inactive military personnel were all treated to a buffet lunch.
“We want to give back to our local first responders that make our life possible,” owner Bill Herlihy said. “We want to say thank you, especially in these trying times.”
Last year’s event had raised about $5,000, Herlihy said, and he had hoped to be able to match that this year.
Herb Smith, fund committee member and battalion chief at Southern Manatee Fire Rescue, was pleased with the turnout.
“Being this is the 15th year, its important that people don’t forget what happened,” Smith said.
Leading up up the anniversary of 9/11 each year, the footage of what happened that day in New York, at the Pentagon and in southwestern Pennsylvania pulls at your heartstrings, he said.
All proceeds from the four-hour event will benefit the Manatee County Emergency Service Memorial Fund. The fund helps the families of first responders who died in the line of duty with immediate assistance, in the interim before death benefits kick in. The fund paid for the construction and is used for maintenance of the First Responders Memorial on the Bradenton Riverwalk.
The band True Blue — whose members are all firefighters — provided the entertainment for diners. Outside in the parking lot, West Manatee Fire Rescue and Manatee County Marine Rescue rotated fire engines, rescue trucks and rescue boats to give children an opportunity for a closer look.
Kimber Dean brought her 8-year-old granddaughter and 4-year-old grandson to the event.
“It sounded like fun, and I thought they would like looking at the truck,” Dean said.
Dean said she was more impressed than the kids, saying they might be too young to understand.
She had also enjoyed having a great conversation with a first responder who helped shed some light on the severity of the current overdose epidemic in the community, she said.
Smith said they were very grateful to the staff of at Island Times Bar and Grill and the Bridge Street Bistro as well as Herlihy for putting on the event.
“We can’t thank him enough for what he does for us and for the community,” Smith said.
The annual event is the only source of funds other than donations that the Manatee County Emergency Service Memorial Fund receives. Thanks to the fund, the community has somewhere they can pay tribute year-round, Smith added.
“Let us never forget that day and what happen,” Herlihy said. “This is the least we can do, and God bless America.”
The Tribute to Heroes Memorial Service — an annual ceremony that pays tribute to those who died on 9/11 and honor local public service employees and emergency workers — will be held at 8 a.m. Monday.
Events to mark 9/11 anniversary
“Love Can Build a Bridge” service: Unity Church In The Woods, 6 p.m., 4200 32nd St. W., Bradenton.
Tribute to Heroes Memorial Service: Ceremony at Bradenton’s Riverwalk, 8 to 10 a.m.
“And Then There Was Quiet: New York After 9/11”: Exhibit at Bradenton Central Library, 1301 Barcarrota Ave.