Editor's note: The following is from the father of Gabriel Zimmerman, who was one of six people killed in the Jan. 8 shooting rampage. Gabe was the community outreach director for U.S. Rep. Gabrielle Giffords, who was critically wounded in the attack.
I need to correct a misimpression I may have given, plus a misquote. When I spoke to the Star I indicated that my son, Gabriel, and I had run across the Grand Canyon on two occasions.
Somehow that morphed into hiking the Canyon. We did what is called a single crossing of the Canyon, descending on North Kaibab trail to Phantom Ranch, then climbing out on South Kaibab trail.
Gabe took off and left me on the descent. I was trudging out and had reached Cedar Ridge, a mile and a half from the South Rim. I was very tired and wanted to stop and rest.
Gabe and his brother, Ben, who had driven our car around from the North Rim, were two switchbacks up. They yelled down, "Dad, come up. No way we're coming down."
So I sighed mentally and trudged some more, but it was really good to have them with me in the final ascent.
Gabe commented that the descent to Phantom Ranch was the most enjoyable run he had ever done and the climb out was the most painful hike/run he had ever done.
Gabriel was not an avid runner. Gabe was a natural athlete who participated in whatever activity the friend or family member was good at. Since his fiancee, Kelly, and I both liked running, Gabe ran with us and I tend to talk about the running.
He completed his first marathon with Kelly's encouragement last year. Since he was inadequately trained, I heard a detailed account of pain and suffering in the final miles.
His primary sport growing up was soccer. He played defender for the UHS/Rincon team that won the state championship two years in a row.
Gabe has participated in El Tour, mountain biked the famous Slick Rock bike trail in Moab, white-water rafted, rock-climbed, surfed, skied, tried snow boarding, played t-ball, basketball and tennis, and hiked many miles with his mom, Emily, who's president of the Arizona Trail Association.
He probably did several activities I haven't heard about yet, such as the skateboarding down the steep hills in Santa Cruz, Calif., - that he never got around to mentioning to his dad. His college friend Anthony disclosed that one just recently.
Thanks for the thoughtful coverage of Gabriel and the other victims of the tragedy. It's appreciated.