published Tuesday, September 11th, 2012

Emergency workers honored on 9/11

Chattanooga firefighter Toby Walker, left, and Lt. Charles Chavis, center, smile as Tara Luna, right, manager of the Cash Express store on Highway 153, presents a cake to the firefighters in appreciation of their efforts to protect the community on Monday at Fire Hall 16, in Lupton City. The financial business annually shows their appreciation in memory of the 9/11 attacks.
Chattanooga firefighter Toby Walker, left, and Lt. Charles Chavis, center, smile as Tara Luna, right, manager of the Cash Express store on Highway 153, presents a cake to the firefighters in appreciation of their efforts to protect the community on Monday at Fire Hall 16, in Lupton City. The financial business annually shows their appreciation in memory of the 9/11 attacks.
Photo by Tim Barber.
IF YOU GO

The Chattanooga Zoo will give free admission to local firefighters, policemen, emergency medical service workers and military personnel with identification or proof of veterans status. The zoo will also allow free admission for up to three family members of the person honored.

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Tara Luna delivered five cakes and handmade cards to firefighters and emergency workers across Hamilton County on Monday. She'll make two more cake deliveries to local police officers today.

Sept. 11 is not the only time to express gratitude to emergency responders, the 30-year-old Soddy-Daisy resident said. Every day they risk their lives to save others.

"We want to say, 'Thank you,'" she said.

Luna, store manager for Cash Express, is among thousands across the country honoring emergency service workers today in recognition of the 11th anniversary of 9/11, when nearly 3,000 people -- including more than 400 emergency workers -- died during the terrorists attacks on New York's World Trade Center.

Luna's store is among seven Cash Express stores in the Chattanooga area delivering nearly 40 cakes to emergency workers this week.

The Chattanooga Zoo is giving free admission to local emergency responders and their family members today.

Remembrances are fewer this year after numerous events were held across Chattanooga and the country on the 10th anniversary of 9/11 in 2011. But Cash Express has a nine-year tradition of bringing cakes and baked goods to honor the service workers, and they plan to continue, said Luna.

"When the planes hit the twin towers in New York it touched a lot of us," said Luna. "The emergency responders here may not have been there, but they still do the same thing."

It was just another day of unloading medical supplies and moving boxes for Lt. Eric Ethridge at the Hamilton County emergency service center off Amnicola Highway. Then Luna walked in with her cake and card.

"A lot of times when we're working with people, we're in and out so fast that there really isn't time to say a lot," Ethridge said. "It's good to know that people recognize what you're doing. It's good to be appreciated."

Along with deliveries to other locations, Luna went to Station No. 16 in Lupton City, then waited for its firefighters to return from training to give them their cake.

Firefighters Capt. Eric Gordon, Lt. Charles Chavis and Toby Walker surrounded Luna when she carried the cake up to their firetruck.

"Let me give you a hug," said Walker. "This makes us feel great."

Contact staff writer Yolanda Putman at yputman@timesfreepress.com or call 423-757-6431.

about Yolanda Putman...

Yolanda Putman has been a reporter at the Times Free Press for 11 years. She covers housing and previously covered education and crime. Yolanda is a Chattanooga native who has a master’s degree in communication from the University of Tennessee and a bachelor’s degree in journalism from Alabama State University. She previously worked at the Lima (Ohio) News. She enjoys running, reading and writing and is the mother of one son, Tyreese. She has also ...

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