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Holiday Meals for Heroes in Montgomery County honors fallen, injured first responders for Easter weekend

Easter weekend in Montco honors fallen and injured first responders with Holiday Meals for Heroes
Easter weekend in Montco honors fallen and injured first responders with Holiday Meals for Heroes 02:27

PLYMOUTH MEETING, Pa. (CBS) -- The 17th annual Holiday Meals for Heroes helped the families of fallen and injured first responders start the holiday weekend with a breakfast at Sunnybrook Gold Club.

"They're all members of the worst club in the world, made up of the finest people in the world," said James Binns, president and CEO of Holiday Meals for Heroes. He was talking about the families attending the breakfast on Good Friday.

Binns' mission was to make sure no one forgets the fallen and injured first responders in these pictures. Heroes like Sergeant Christopher Fitzgerald, the first Temple University officer killed in the line of duty last year. He also wanted to honor Philadelphia Police Sergeant Richard Mendez, a 22-year veteran who was shot and killed while trying to intervene during a car break-in at Philadelphia International Airport last October.

"We started out with the spouses and parents," Binns said. "And now, we're at spouses, children, and grandchildren."

Robert Hessmann was eight years old when his uncle, Pennsylvania State Police Officer David Kedra, died during a training exercise in 2014.

"He was a great guy. He was a real family man," Hessmann said. "He was kind of goofy. I picked up a few things from him."

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Hessmann said he is happy to see the kids leave behind their grief, if only for a moment, and pick up Easter eggs.

"I think, for the Easter egg hunt, I would forget and I would just be in the moment," he said.

Louise Cummings was in the moment, too. She came to remember her husband, Delaware State Police Officer Stephen Ballard, who was shot and killed in the line of duty in 2017.

"We want to make sure that he is never forgotten, so we really appreciate all that the Heroes Breakfast does to keep his memory and the other memories alive," she said.

The work to help these families did not end with the end of the meal. There was a special gift waiting in dozens of boxes.

"They provide a full meal," Cummings said. "Ham or turkey, and then all the sides and fixings. And, it's just really nice to know, especially Stephen. He loved holidays."

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