On the second anniversary of the Jan. 8, 2011, Tucson shooting massacre, Jim and Doris Tucker stood in front of the University of Arizona Medical Center for a communitywide bell ringing.
But when the clock struck 10:10 a.m., the time that the first shot was fired, the church bells across the street did not ring. They were out of service.
So the Tuckers, who witnessed the shooting, decided to make sure the hospital that treated all the victims would have its own bell to ring for future remembrances of a tragedy that killed six people and injured 13, including then-Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords.
The portable brass "ship" bell is no more than 5 inches in diameter, but it has a tone that can be heard above the Campbell Avenue traffic, Jim Tucker said. The bell, which will soon be adorned with a plaque, for now sits in an office north of the medical center. It will be used on the third anniversary of the shooting on Jan. 8, 2014, UA Medical Center officials say.
"We cannot express enough our gratitude for this token of remembrance for a day no one at the University of Arizona Medical Center will ever forget," said Karen Mlawsky, chief executive officer of the hospital division at the UA Health Network. "We appreciate the Tuckers' generosity of spirit that inspired it."
The Tuckers say they decided that donating a bell for future observances might be a nice a way to give back to the community and thank the staff at the UA Medical Center. They presented the bell last month to Mlawsky, along with UA Health Network Chief Executive Officer Dr. Michael Waldrum, Planning Director Steve Brigham and the chaplain supervisor, the Rev. Joe Fitzgerald.
The shooting also inspired the Tuckers to become emergency response chaplains through Billy Graham's Rapid Response Team, which is a group of volunteer chaplains sent all over the region in response to man-made or natural disasters.
"We felt like with our experience we would be able to help others in similar situations," Doris Tucker said.
The program is based on Christian principles, and the training teaches them how to provide emotional and spiritual care to individuals in crises, including shootings, fires, tornados and floods.
In 2012, volunteer chaplains from the Billy Graham organization aided victims of the forest fires in Colorado Springs and Fort Collins, Colo., the July shooting in Aurora, Colo., the December shooting in Newtown, Conn., and superstorm Sandy in New Jersey and New York. They also deploy volunteers internationally.
The Tuckers were speaking with Giffords at the Congress on Your Corner event when the first shots were fired.
Jim Tucker was shot twice, once in the chest and once in his right leg. His wife was physically uninjured.
"It happened in the blink of an eye," he said. "I was dazed but could audibly hear the gunshots. I lost track after about 20."
The Tuckers point to God, their community and the bystanders who stepped in to aid victims as heroes. They also identify two women as their good Samaritans, who wrapped Jim's two gunshot wounds in makeshift tourniquets and comforted Doris in the midst of crisis and chaos.
"They came before first responders," Jim said.
"It was instrumental in saving my husband's life as well as the many others they helped," Doris said.
Though they have yet to be deployed as volunteer chaplains, the Tuckers will attend their second Billy Graham conference in June in Asheville, N.C.
In addition, Jim sits on a board, along with several other survivors and family members of the victims, to plan details of a permanent Jan. 8 memorial. No timeline is set, but the non-profit organization, called the January 8th Memorial Foundation, is in the fundraising and brainstorming idea phase.
The January 8th Memorial Foundation wants to enlist the help of survivors, victims' families, first responders and the community to create a meaningful memorial. To suggest ideas for the project and sites, email firstname.lastname@example.org
Courtney L'Ecuyer is a University of Arizona student who is an apprentice at the Star. Contact her at 573-4117 or at email@example.com