SPRINGFIELD, MA (WGGB/WSHM) - This week, a number of police officers were killed in the line of duty in incidents around the country.
The most recent, a 22-year-old Davis, California Police officer was shot and killed while investigating a crash.
Her fellow brothers and sisters in blue remembered her this evening at the annual First Responders Night at the home of the Springfield Thunderbirds.
It was a place for people here in western Mass to thank their first responders for all they do.
Tonight's theme was "Not All Heroes Wear Capes", and it was all about recognizing the Pioneer Valley's everyday heroes.
Visitors arriving to the MassMutual Center Saturday night were greeted by fire trucks, police vehicles, and ambulances.
It's something that caught the eye of 10-year-old Brady Denniston of South Hadley.
"As I was walking in," Denniston tells us. "There was a cluster of them and I just said, 'You guys rock. You keep doing what you're doing. You guys are awesome.', and they gave me the salute of approval and thumbs up. It was really cool."
Thankfully, there was no emergency.
It was all part of the Thunderbirds' third-annual 'Not All Heroes Wear Capes' night.
"What they do for our community," continued Denniston. "Is just too much, and it's wonderful so I think it's a really good thing that they do. Not just showing kids the superheroes, but also the heroes who help our communities every, single day and night and I think that's great."
Nathan Costa, President of the Thunderbirds, tells Western Mass News why the night is so important.
"The most we can do is," stated Costa. "Use our platform from the hockey perspective to give back, say thank you, and really have a good night and allow them to have a fun night as well."
For Stacey LaBelle of Heath, the work of first responders is personal.
"I come from a family of police officers," says LaBelle. "My son is a firefighter, and I think it's an unrecognized job. It truly is. They have the hardest job out there."
"I really can't describe it," LaBelle stated in regards to hearing of yet another officer killed in the line of duty. "It just tears at the heartstrings every, single time."
"Thank you to the people that," said Costa. "Put their lives on the line for us every day."
Family members of first responders killed in the line of duty were invited tonight, and a moment of silence was held before the start of the game to remember those gave the ultimate sacrifice.