Local firefighter's ride for charity nears end

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News 12 First at Five, October 11, 2007

AUGUSTA, Ga.---An Augusta firefighter is rounding out the trip of a lifetime that's taking him across the country. It's his way of raising money for 9 Charleston, South Carolina firefighters who died on the job.

A big task, right? But there's more...he did it on a bicycle.

"Every time that I was hurting on the road or anything that was bothering me, I just tried to think about what the people were going through that lost their family members," Laddie Williams said. He was in Augusta today on the last leg of his cross-country bike ride.

A roof collapse in Charleston, South Carolina killed 9 firefighters in June. It is the largest loss of firefighters at one time since the 9/11 attacks. Williams, a third generation firefighter, says he felt driven to help. "What we did was a pretty amazing task, but what those families are going through was an even harder road to ride," he said.

Williams says not even being attacked by dogs, snakes, and being hit by a car would keep him from this mission. "I wasn't gonna let them down. We were going to make it no matter what."

It is a resolve that was tested right from the beginning. His wife announced she was pregnant with their first child.

"Just the experience of finding out together was something I missed, but once again I thought about those families, and I would hope that my children would think that their dad did something for other people and sacrificed."

"We are all proud of Laddie and what he's done," said Augusta mayor Deke Copenhaver. "He was a great ambassador for Augusta across the nation and we're honoring him today."

City Administrator Fred Russell said, "You need to celebrate the good things even when they're born in tragedy."

Williams says he could not agree more. "It was a blessing to be able to do it, and I really appreciate the opportunity."

Williams will head to Charleston Saturday morning. He says you can still make donations at ride4c9.com.

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