VALERO PROVIDES LEAD GIFT TO TEXAS PANHANDLE FIRST RESPONDERS MEMORIAL
AMARILLO, Texas (Aug. 9, 2023) – Valero, a major refiner and employer with deep roots in the Texas Panhandle, has provided the lead gift of $200,000 in a fundraising effort to build the Texas Panhandle First Responders Memorial in downtown Amarillo.
The Memorial is a project of Friends of AJ Swope in partnership with regional first responder agencies. It will list names of dozens of Texas Panhandle law enforcement officers, firefighters and emergency medical technicians who have died in the line of duty over the past 141 years.
“Valero’s leadership in this effort is invaluable,” said Gary Pitner, a member of the Friends of AJ Swope board. “Having a respected corporate citizen step up demonstrates Valero’s commitment to the Texas Panhandle and their respect for first responders. We’re grateful to have them on board.”
The Memorial is planned for the northwest corner of South Polk Street and 11th Avenue south of the historic Bivins Home that houses the Amarillo Chamber of Commerce and Center City of Amarillo. Friends of AJ Swope is working toward a $1.5 million fundraising goal and expects to start construction in 2024.
The Memorial’s concept includes a slightly below grade, terraced, black granite monument with a water feature and lighting that will host the names of the 91 fallen law enforcement officers, firefighters and emergency medical services personnel.
Names will be engraved on raised panels mounted on the granite monument. Additional granite walls will be located directly across from the monument to provide seating and will be engraved with donors’ names. Landscaping will include significant areas of trees, flowering trees, shrubbery, and grass and the downtown-approved streetscape will be installed along both the Polk Street and 11th Avenue areas of the property. The Memorial will be ADA-accessible.
In addition to the physical monument, a website will be created and maintained to educate the public and tell the story behind each name engraved on the Memorial. A QR code at the monument site will lead interested people to the website where each story will be provided in written and audio form.
While many of these fallen first responders have been memorialized in other ways, no single memorial exists honoring all of the first responders of the Texas Panhandle who have given the ultimate sacrifice in the line of duty. Providing such a place to pause and reflect is important to create a lasting tribute, showing respect for the loss of each first responder who so selflessly served the citizens of the Panhandle region.
“A memorial indicates that we as citizens are grateful for each first responder’s service, recognize their sacrifice, honor their individual legacies, and respect their families and the loss they have endured,” Pitner said. “The stories of each lost first responder not only convey the sacrifice and bravery of these Panhandle heroes, but also honor the profession, volunteerism and service of all first responders.”
Fundraising efforts for the Texas Panhandle First Responders Memorial are ongoing. More information and a secure payment portal for donations can be found at friendsofajswope.org.