'Together We Move' commemorates victims, survivors of Jan. 8, 2011, shooting in Tucson
Community members gathered at Armory Park in downtown Tucson on Saturday afternoon to commemorate Gabe Zimmerman, once a staffer of former Rep. Gabrielle Giffords, and five others who lost their lives on Jan. 8, 2011.
Two years ago, a gunman, later identified as Jared Lee Loughner, opened fire at a “Congress on Your Corner” event being held outside a Safeway in northwest Tucson. Loughner killed six and wounded 13 others, including Giffords.
“It’s a celebration really of the lives that were lived and are still being lived,” said Jonathan Rothschild, mayor of Tucson, at the commemoration.
Zimmerman’s parents started BEYOND, a community event to commemorate the anniversary of the shooting, which this year organized “Together We Move,” focused on health and fitness. The evening included dozens of activities from hula-hooping and jump-roping to making bracelets with Beads of Courage, Inc., a program that provides support to children with serious illnesses through “arts-in-medicine care programs,” according to the program’s website.
“There’s nothing that can get back those lives,” Rothschild said. “But what’s important here is that the Zimmerman family… this is what they envisioned that Gabe would want and that’s what makes it so important.”
People of all ages surrounded the main stage following directions from a lead dancer to learn Zumba, merengue and hip-hop. BEYOND gave away flying discs and kids were provided with jump-ropes.
“If you knew Gabe at all, his whole life was devoted to getting outdoors, to bringing communities together and to exercising,” Rothschild said.
Rep. Ron Barber, a former member of Giffords’ staff, took the main stage at 1 p.m. and discussed the need to improve mental health services. He also urged Congress do more about weapon control.
“I know if Gabe were here today, he would be saying ‘We need to do something about mental health and weapons that have that kind of firepower,’” Barber said. “As long as I’m in office I will be working to make sure that both of those things happen so we could put an end to these mass shootings.”
Staff members from the University of Arizona Medical Center taught community members how to perform CPR in emergency cardiac arrest situations. Medical students used dummies to teach children and their parents the procedure.
“If anything [the victims] would want us to learn from the event and I think that’s what we’re all doing. We’re learning, we’re showing support, we’re showing that the community cares,” said Michele Karpinsky, a medical student who volunteered at the event. “I think it’s a wonderful way to remember those lives that were lost and keep their legacy going.”
Stephen Brigham, president of the January 8th Memorial Foundation and director of capital planning and projects for the University of Arizona Health Network, said a smaller and more centralized park was a good fit for the event, which was held at Reid Park last year.
“Tragic shootings like this come from individuals that are unhealthy,” Birmingham said. “So if we could converge and reinforce and strengthen health I think that’s doing more than any public sculpture could ever do.”
The foundation, which was founded nine months ago and includes survivors, Gabe Zimmerman’s father and community members, has asked the community to contribute ideas for future memorials. Another request from the foundation was that community members participate in a bell ringing at 10:10 on Tuesday to commemorate the exact time and date of the shooting.