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Firefighters ‘Climb Tampa,’ witness wedding proposal

A number of cool things happened when West Manatee Fire Rescue took part in the American Lung Association’s “Climb Tampa” last Saturday.

For one, they were first in team fundraising with $4,825, led by firefighter Rodney Kwiatkowski’s collection of $1,647 and Lt. Ryan Moore’s $1,150.

For another, the team took second in the Firefighter Team Competition, a herculean trek in full gear up the 42-story Bank of America in downtown Tampa. Tampa Fire Rescue topped the 11 team-field.

“The Tampa guys train in those buildings,” said Capt. Tom Sousa. “Our guys train in the (Employee Leasing Solutions) building, which is 12 stories.”

Rich Losek, Corey Quinn and Jonathan Turpin were WMFR’s three fastest climbers. Losek was just seconds behind the first-place firefighter, coming in at 8 minutes, 15 seconds.

The coolest thing was this:

Lt. Moore popped the question to girlfriend Marissa Crosby — on the roof!

“I’d been up there some weeks before for a practice run and nothing rivaled the view,” he said. “You can see forever.”

So with the race done, Moore got his girlfriend on the roof, and with his mom, Mary Pickup, and fellow firefighters looking, on he dropped to one knee.

“It wasn’t smooth,” Moore joked. “I was a wreck from the race and I had to dig around in my bunker gear for the ring. But she figured it out.”

Crosby said yes.

n Nine-year-old Taaron Bottley finished fourth in the Elks Hoops Shoot southeast regionals at Valdosta, Ga., last weekend.

The Mills Elementary third-grader, Florida’s 8- and 9-year-old champion, was 17 of 25 from the free throw line.

“I will be back next year,” Taaron said.

n LRHS Marching Mustang baritone player Scott Ehresman is 16.

n Superintendent Tim McGonegal will be the honorary chairman and lead the Take Stock in Children of Manatee County’s 10K run/walk and one-mile Fun Run on Sunday along Main Street Lakewood Ranch.

The run/walk starts at 7:30 a.m., followed by the Fun Run at 7:45 a.m.

For more details, visit: Vin’s People, by local columnist Vin Mannix, runs Tuesday, Thursday and Friday. Have a column item? A photo you want to share? Please call Vin Mannix at 745-7055, write him at Bradenton Herald, P.O. Box 921, Bradenton, Fla. 34206 or email him at Please include a phone number for verification.