|Thursday, Jan 19, 2012|
Saguaro National Park was humbled to be one of the many community partners taking part in the “BEYOND: Commemorate, Celebrate, Commit” event that took place on January 7th.
The event commemorated the shooting tragedy that occurred on January 8, 2011, killing six people and injuring thirteen. The tragedy was devastating to the Tucson community – everyone was affected, whether they knew Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords, the other victims, or the survivors.
It was a hard day for all, and certainly for the staff of Saguaro National Park. Congresswoman Giffords and her Gabe Zimmerman, her director of community outreach, who was killed in the incident, had supported many park efforts on both a professional and personal level.
The park grappled with how it could help the community of Tucson move forward. Steve Golden, an NPS RTCA employee and a member of Gabe Zimmerman’s family, encouraged Saguaro and a small group of community partners and public land managers to convene to discuss and brainstorm ideas. As a result, the Tucson Trails Tribute (TTT) was formed.
The mission of the TTT is to promote physical and mental health by getting people outside, engaging their bodies and brains in our extraordinary public spaces. TTT’s inaugural project was “BEYOND: Commemorate, Celebrate, Commit.” BEYOND’s goal is to commemorate those lost in the tragedy, celebrate the spirit and connectivity of our community, and commit to a stronger community through outdoor recreation and promotion of physical and mental health.
Planning for the BEYOND event transformed into a huge community effort involving a diverse coalition of community partners, from local nonprofits to local government and federal land management agencies.
Saguaro National Park was a key partner in defining and planning the sunrise-to-sunset, community-wide event, which included opportunities to walk, hike, run, bike, ride, be artistic, and to learn new skills at more than 30 venues across the greater Tucson area.
The park also teamed up with the Southern Arizona Roadrunners to host a free, non-competitive five mile social run among the cacti in the park’s Tucson Mountain District. More than 175 people participated in the run, enjoying the gorgeous weather and scenery and engaging with their neighbors. Park entrance fees were waived for the entire park, and many people came out to celebrate the healing power of the outdoors and the spirit of togetherness in our community.
The park looks forward to making BEYOND an annual event and is honored to be part of a new tradition for Saguaro National Park, for Tucson, and for Southern Arizona.
To learn more about BEYOND, please go to www.beyond-tucson.org.