Elementary school pays it forward to Phoenix firefighters - KTRE.com | Lufkin and Nacogdoches, Texas

Elementary school pays it forward to Phoenix firefighters

(Source: CBS 5 News) (Source: CBS 5 News)

The young man who lost his life last week, Phoenix firefighter Bradley Harper, had a special connection to an elementary school just down the street from his fire station and the teachers and students at the school are paying it forward.

There can be some downtime as a firefighter and since Garcia Elementary is just a block down the street from Fire Station 21, Harper and his colleagues would often play basketball in the Garcia gym.

Harper and his crew were also the first responders for school emergencies like a choking call last week.

"After everything had calmed down and they had taken care of the situation and everything was OK, our assistant principal has a three-wheeled scooter that she uses to get around campus and he decided to take it for a little spin and was riding around campus on it and the kids just thought it was hysterical and the staff too. It was just funny to see a guy in firefighter pants riding a scooter around campus," Garcia Elementary teacher Erika Lotz said.

Lotz had to tell the students that Harper passed away.

"We just let them know that he died doing his job, and one of my students even said, 'So he died a hero' and yes he did," Lotz said.

When the parents at Garcia Elementary heard that Harper had died, they raised more money than ever before, more than $1,000. Even though school is already out, teachers, parents and students came back Thursday, making the short walk to share to share their heavy hearts.

"You are more than the fire station next door or the fire station in our community, you are family. While we may never know exactly how you feel, we mourn this loss with you," Lotz said.

Lotz presented the $500, but had no idea they would be presenting this gift to Harper's cousin, Eric Harper, who is also a Phoenix firefighter and loved Harper like a brother.

"He was a gregarious, outgoing, just like everybody else was saying, just brightens up a room, smiles, loves life," Eric Harper said. "He was an awesome husband, he loved Lena, he still loves Lena with all his heart. She was his dream girl. They were high school sweethearts."

"The fact that the school that's just down from the station wanted to come here and give to Brad's family, to Lena, it's really, really generous. It's greatly appreciated," he added.

Click here for details on how to donate to Harper's family.

Copyright 2013 CBS 5 (KPHO Broadcasting Corporation). All rights reserved.

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