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'Someone that goes above and beyond' | First responders define what a hero is in Virginia Beach celebration

First responders and frontline workers were celebrated with family and friends Saturday for all their hard work throughout the pandemic and beyond.

VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. — First responders and frontline workers from all over Virginia Beach were the focus of a special celebration at the Pembroke Mall on Saturday.

The event was hosted by the Coastal Edge store where the first 100 'local heroes' received free T-shirts and bags filled with goodies to say thank you for all their hard work. So, 13News Now asked a few people at the celebration how they would define a hero.

"Someone who goes above and beyond doing those things that normal citizens sometimes do," said Oceana Volunteer Fire Department Chief, Wayne Richardson.

"When tragedy hits, being able to step up and do what needs to be done, regardless of the dangers that are involved," said Oceana Volunteer Fire Department Deputy Chief, Steven Kennedy.

Both Richardson and Kennedy have been with the department, as well as the Virginia Beach Fire Department, for decades. They say they love the job, but it does come with its own unique challenges.

"Our Virginia Task Force 2 just was deployed to Florida and they did a fantastic job down there in a very very stressful and difficult situation," said Richardson. "We have to hide our emotions when we deal with difficult situations. We hide it very well."

Coastal Edge managers say they wanted to hold this type of celebration for a while now and it was finally able to come to fruition with the COVID-19 restrictions lifting in the city.

"We just wanted to show our appreciation for our local heroes," said Coastal Edge Marketing Manager, Heather Lakhani. "These are everyday people. They're your neighbors. They're your friends, your uncles and aunts and they're out here every single day doing the best they can." 

Family and friends attended to celebrate their loved ones who push through difficult times to help others. The first responders said while they work hard because they love it and not for the celebrations, they appreciate the recognition when they get it.