State firefighters ride gets boost from 9/11 survivor

GREENFIELD — The roar of 500 motorcycles filled the parking lot at Greenfield High School Saturday, July 28th. The Wisconsin State Firefighters Memorial hosted its annual ‘Ride of Remembrance,’ drawing firefighters and their families from across the state.

Vinny Forras responded to Ground Zero with the New York City Fire Department in the days after the terrorist attacks on September 11, 2001. He’s since toured the country, sharing his story and making sure memories of that day never fade. While searching in the rubble, Forras got buried in the wreckage and was trapped for two hours.

“My life from that moment on was forever changed. I thought I was gonna die. I started to scream, panic. It was pitch-black. I couldn’t see my hand in front of my face,” Forras said.

In addition to raising awareness, Forras also worked with fire departments across the country for the “Gear Up” project. It asks departments to donate their used equipment to other countries.

“We continue to deliver gear and training to developing nations’ firefighters – trucks, air packs, all sorts of things. This region of the United States has been the most responsive in donating equipment,” Forras said.

Riders on Saturday said the support doesn’t surprise them – especially those who’ve become veterans of the annual ride.

“I’ve been on this ride every year since my second year,” Bryan Loser, a retired Menomonee Falls fire captain said. “(Supporters) usually line up on the street, wave to us, wave flags, so it’s just a tremendous show of support.”

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