Heroes to Be Honored at 15th Appreciation Dinner
Pinellas Commissioner John Morroni's 15th Annual Appreciation Dinner for Emergency Personnel will be held on Friday, Jan. 29, at the Hilton St. Petersburg Carillon Park, 950 Lake Carillon Drive, St. Petersburg. The evening begins at 6 p.m., with dinner at 7.
The 2010 dinner marks the return of Morroni's annual event with a renewed spirit. Last year's event was cancelled due to his illness. Morroni is pleased to announce that the proceeds of this year's dinner will be donated to the Boys and Girls Clubs of the Suncoast and the Children's Burn Foundation of Florida Inc.
The dinner was started in memory of Belleair Police Officer Jeffery Tackett. The 28-year-old died from a gunshot wound on June 13, 1993, when he responded to a call alone and was shot with his own weapon.
The loss of the officer deeply affected the entire community, and those who attended the memorial services were struck with the tragedy, including then-state Rep. John Morroni, who pledged to do something to help prevent this kind of tragedy from happening again.
Morroni co-sponsored the Tackett Bill with Sen. Dennis Jones in 1995. The state legislation requires two officers be on duty at all times, unless mutual aid agreements with other law enforcement agencies are in place, so that law enforcement officers do not respond to calls alone.
"My pride lies with the men and women who literally put their lives on the line for all of us," said Morroni. "Because of this law, officers are safer because they have backup when they are doing their jobs of keeping us safe."
In 1995, Morroni organized the first Law Enforcement Appreciation Dinner. As a Pinellas County commissioner, Morroni continues the tradition every year, expanding it to include firefighters and EMS personnel. Special honorees have included Officer Tackett's family and emergency personnel who helped in the rescue efforts in New York City following the 9/11 attack.
"This is really the only event that recognizes the valuable contributions made by members of the law enforcement, fire and emergency medical communities," said Morroni. "It's an honor to be a part of it."
Public safety personnel and local elected officials will attend the event and the public is invited. Donations are $75 per ticket, which includes the dinner and a donation to the charities.
For information and to make reservations, call (727) 791-3356. Reservations for this event must be made by Jan. 25.
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