By JULIE CHURCH
© St. Petersburg Times, published September 23, 2001
A local firefighter is taking his message to the airwaves to help victims of the Sept. 11 attacks on America.
Oldsmar Fire Capt. Jerry Gabardi plays the electric bass in a contemporary band at Palm Harbor Community Church.
The band, Ebenezer, had already wanted to cut a CD. The day after the attacks, John Thompson, music director at the church and a New York native, took pen in hand and wrote the lyrics to a song titled "Canyon of the Souls."
Gabardi said once the words were on paper, the recording of the CD came easily.
"We went into the studio at 8 on Monday and stayed up all night to finish it," he said.
The title of the song refers to the area of Manhattan in which the World Trade Center was was located. It is often called the "Canyon of Wall Street" or the "Canyon of Heros," because championship sports teams are heralded in parades held there, according to Gabardi. The lyrics include this passage:
Sleep well heroes
Sleep well my friends
You are not forgotten
This is not the end
I can hear your voices
They still echo
In the canyon of the souls
Now that the CD has been cut, Gabardi and his band mates are working to get national exposure for the recording.
Gabardi said they have approached the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in hopes of having the recording played at halftime at the next home game. They are also talking to local radio stations and have received a favorable response.
One of Thompson's friends works in Mayor Rudy Giuliani's office. He is trying to get the recording played at an upcoming vigil for attack victims at Yankee Stadium in New York City.
Gabardi said that all proceeds from CDs sold will go to the New York Police & Fire Widows & Children's Benefit Fund.
He said donating to the fund is a small way he can help the efforts in New York.
"We (local firefighters) have had some frustrations," he said. "Guys down here are so far from ground zero, it's frustrating not being able to do something even as simple as moving a rock."
Gabardi played the tape for Mayor Jerry Beverland on Wednesday and he said it is inspiring.
"It's nice, it really is," Beverland said. "It will bring tears to your eyes."
Oldsmar's monthly City Council/City Manager award was presented to Chapter 87 of the Military Order of the Purple Heart in a moving ceremony at the City Council Chambers on Tuesday.
The group of veterans injured during combat has more than 200 members from Hillsborough, Pinellas and Pasco counties. Several Oldsmar residents are members, including Marc Brill, who accepted the award. Every year the group participates in Memorial and Veterans Day ceremonies in the city as well as other local events.
"It was quite an honor," said Ed Sitton, the group's senior vice commander. "To recognize, through us, people who have rendered their service to this country."
Oldsmar's Coastal Cleanup, which was canceled due to Tropical Storm Gabrielle last week, has been rescheduled for 8:30 a.m. Oct. 13 at R.E. Olds Park, 107 Shore Drive.
Trash bags, gloves and data cards will be provided. Volunteers should wear comfortable clothing, thick-soled shoes, insect repellent and sunscreen.
The event is part of the Florida Coastal Cleanup 2001. Last year the event drew 32,247 volunteers statewide and they collected 532 tons of debris.
The goal of the cleanup is not only to remove trash from the beaches, but also to collect information about the types and sources of the debris that is found. The data are used for research and education.
Call (727) 441-6005.
A volunteer committee looking into the possibility of bringing a charter middle school to Oldsmar will meet at 4 p.m. Thursday at the Holiday Inn Express Hotel, 3990 Tampa Road.
The meeting was originally scheduled for earlier in the month, but was canceled due to recent tragedies. Call (813) 855-4693.
Mayor Jerry Beverland will be the guest reader at family story time from 7 to 7:45 p.m. Monday at the Oldsmar Library, 101 State St.
Family story time is for adults and children of all ages. Other story times are held at 9:30 and 10 a.m. on Tuesdays for children ages 12 months to 36 months and at 10 a.m. on Thursdays for children ages 3 to 5.
Library cards are required for admittance to all story times and space is limited. Priority will be given to Oldsmar residents. Call (813) 855-5940.
The Woman's Club of Oldsmar will hold its monthly cards and board games party at 1 p.m. Tuesday.
The party is open to the public and will be held at the Oldsmar Cultural Arts Centre, 402 St. Petersburg Drive. The event is free and refreshments will be served. Call Jean Jorgenson at (813) 855-3067.
- If you have news or photos about Oldsmar schools, churches, businesses, neighborhood groups, community organizations or people, contact Julie Church at the North Pinellas Times. You can call her at (727) 445-4229, e-mail her at firstname.lastname@example.org, fax material to her at (727) 445-4206 or mail material to North Pinellas Times, 34342 U.S. 19 N, Palm Harbor, FL 34684.