LAKEWOOD RANCH - Operation Patriot Support, a local nonprofit that helps veterans, host their 4th annual Evening with Heroes. A night David Pfeiffer, President of Operation Patriot Support (OPs), says honor those who truly deserve it.

"Their sacrifice, as they were running in others were running out. Very emotional, very emotional," said Pfeiffer.

The annual fundraiser helps OPs raise funds to support local programs that help veterans like the Valor Service Program. A nonprofit that awards service dogs to veterans and first responders.

"We provide any sort of support that we can, and the needs rage from a few $100 to several $1,000's," said Pete Skokos, CEO of OPs. "I think our strength is we are small organization, we can react quickly and vet individuals very quickly.”

Though several veterans and fallen soldiers were honored, former Sarasota Chief of Police Pete Abbott was the guest of honor. Abbott was one of the first responder at ground zero the moment the second plane struck the south tower.

"It was like any other day in the morning," said Abbott. "I worked in the top floor of the headquarters in the first deputy commissioner’s office. I heard a big commotion on the other side, I ran through the doors to see what was going on. [I] Looked up against the glass, everybody was up against the glass, I see all this smoke coming out of the north tower. ”

Abbott says he hasn’t spoken publicly about the tragedy in almost 16 years as it brings painful memories back of those first responders he would never see again.

"I put the gear on a lot of people who died that day, but I’ve known a lot of people who have died since,” he said.

Abbott says he’s honored to be acknowledged by OPs but says it’s the hard work of law enforcement, military personnel, and first responders that should be honored everyday.