PHOENIX -- Families of 23 lost heroes gathered at the Orpheum Theatre in downtown Phoenix Friday night for a special tribute hosted by the 100 Club of Arizona.
The event honored the firefighters and law enforcement officers killed in the line of duty in 2013.
“I’ve cried many times this year,” said Executive Director Sharon Knutson-Felix, whose husband, Arizona Department of Public Safety Officer Doug Knutson, died in the line of duty in 1998.
The 46th annual tribute honored the 19 Granite Mountain Hot Shots, Phoenix firefighters Brandi Schamadan and Bradley Harper, DPS Officer Tim Huffman and Phoenix Police Officer Daryl Raetz.
A moment of silence was held for John Hobbs, a Phoenix police detective killed in a shootout Monday.
“Every loss this past year plus this week has ripped through our hearts and tore through our minds,” said 100 Club President George Weisz.
“Some of us lose our lives, some of us lose our legs, some of us lose our families, some of us lose our careers. One thing that we never lose is our courage,” said Peoria Police Det. Bill Weigt, who was left paralyzed after being shot in the line of duty.
It’s that courage that makes their loved ones forever proud.
“He fought every day that he went to work and put on his uniform,” said Stephanie Raetz, widow of Daryl Raetz. “That was his life and he wouldn’t have done anything to change it, and he wouldn’t have chosen to go any different.”
While the pain never subsides, Raetz says the continued prayers and support from family, friends and the community keep her going.
“When something like this happens, they all just reach out to you. It’s an amazing feeling to know that you have a whole city behind you,” Raetz said. “I couldn’t do it without support I’ve had.”