Peoria Firefighters Run in Steamboat Classic

By Marc Strauss

June 18, 2011 Updated Jun 18, 2011 at 10:09 PM CDT

Every year members of the Peoria Fire Department run in the Steamboat Classic. This year they had company and some special running attire.

They don't do it to win. They don't even do it to compete. They do it to remember.

"Its sort of our Memorial Day," said retired firefighter Gary Norbom. "Even though we're not service workers we're firefighters and we remember people who sacrificed their lives and gave for others in times of need for our nation. That's why we continue to do this."

Almost 10 years after 9/11 more than 40 Peoria firefighters ran in Saturday's Steamboat Classic. 4 miles. In full gear.

"The first time was the 5-year anniversary where we wore all of our fire gear. Bunker pants, coat and helmet," said fireman Jerry Malone. "And this will be the 10-year anniversary and we'll wear our bunker pants, coat and helmet."

For them its a tribute. Its also a call to action.

"One of the reasons we get out here and do it in our gear and run with this extra stuff is to encourage the general public to get out here and participate," said firefighter Lore Baxter.

This is the 10th year Peoria firefighters have run Steamboat. And this year they were honored to be joined by 4 of their brothers from New York.

Louis Strandberg is one of the men from the New York City Fire Department who accepted the invitation to run. He's also one who was at the scene on that day almost 10 years ago day America was attacked.

"I was there when the second tower came down," said Strandberg. "At that point we knew the devastation and the impact it was going to have. We knew we had lost a lot of firemen and a lot of civilians."

Strandberg admires the Peoria firefighters weighed down by the extra 10-15 pounts of gear during Saturday's run.

"There is definitely a brotherhood among firemen and among all rescue workers," said Strandberg. "We're brothers. It doesn't matter whether its New York, Peoria, California, we're all in it together."

And that was on display at the end of the race when the entire group from Peoria crossed the finish line together. Another experience that strengthens the bond between them.