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Updated 8:08 AM on Sunday, August 20, 2006

Couple gives back to firefighters

By LAURA HENSLEY
Eagle Staff Writer

A Brazos County couple who survived the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks in New York will mark the fifth anniversary of the tragedy by hosting a fundraiser for a foundation aimed at helping firefighters.

Oral and Debbie Capps have created the Capps Family Firefighters Education Foundation, which provides scholarships to the Brayton Fire Training School in College Station. Each year, thousands of firefighters from around the world enroll at the training center. So far, the foundation has awarded about $3,000 to three firefighters, and the couple is determined to give more.

IF YOU GO

The Capps Family Firefighters Education Foundation fundraiser

When: Sept. 3, 2 to 6 p.m.

Where: Benjamin Knox Gallery, 405 University Drive, College Station

Tickets: $10

Information: 693-0320

"There is no way we can not respond to the work that [firefighters] do," Debbie Capps said. "We just wanted to offer support to these new firefighters who really take a financial hit to be able to put themselves through school. It's been a pleasure to help who we've been able to help, but we want to do even more."

The fund-raiser, called "Five Years Later: Remembering the Reality, Focusing on the Future," is set for Sept. 3 from 2 to 6 p.m. at the Benjamin Knox Gallery in College Station. The casual, come-and-go event will include guest speakers throughout the afternoon.

There also will be $25 raffle tickets for a "Christmas in New York" vacation package, which includes two airplane tickets to New York and a three-night stay at the Marriott World Financial Center hotel.

The winner of the raffle will be drawn at noon Sept. 11 at the Benjamin Knox Gallery.

The keynote speakers at the Sept. 3 event will be New York City firefighters Mike Prodromides and Charlie Gersbeck from Ladder 12, Engine 3, in Manhattan - the company that assisted the couple on Sept. 11, 2001. The couple was at the Marriott World Trade Center Hotel in New York for a business conference when two planes crashed into the World Trade Center towers.

The harrowing ordeal led the pair to establish a tradition of inviting firefighters from Ladder 12, Engine 3 to Texas for a weekend of Aggie football and hospitality.

The trips, which are paid for by the Capps family, are a way to express gratitude to those firefighters, Debbie Capps said.

"Anything we can do to help them out so they can help other people out, we will do," she said. "It's easy to forget about the people who help you in the dire situations in your life. But this is a time to shower love, respect and appreciation on those people who are willing to put you first and themselves last."

• Laura Hensley's e-mail address is laura.hensley@theeagle.com.




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