OKLAHOMA CITY - As we remember the lives lost 24 years ago in the Murrah Federal Building bombing, we also honor the first responders who were there minutes afterward doing search, rescue and recovery.

One of those people is retired Oklahoma City Firefighter Willi Butler.  He worked on recovery efforts at the Murrah Federal Building for 19 days back in 1995.

After putting his neck on the line for years, Willi’s on a different line. This time for a heart transplant.

“The thing that kills firefighters the most is heart and lung… you try and be tough and you try and think it’s just a job but it eats on you, for years,” says Butler.

His firefighting career in OKC started in 1982, it was a long ride spanning 25 years  

Some days on that ride, like April 19th 1995 were not easy. Willi still remembers getting the call and responding to the scene of the Murrah Federal Building. He recalls hearing the news over the scanners and then rushing to the scene,

“From there all hell broke loose,” he says, “Our engine crew worked with the FBI to search the area for several blocks for parts, they knew It was an automobile but they weren’t sure what it was.

He was forced to retire because of his heart problems and now he’s on the transplant list, living with no regrets riding for his brothers and sisters in uniform.

He does his best to take part in the Ride to Remember event every year, it’s a poker run charity fueled by motorcyclists and donations all benefiting first responder charities.

He says giving back is a positive outlet and allows him to not worry about being sick.

“I’m not one to lay down. I can be laying in bed watching TV and watching you on the news but I chose not to, I choose to dig down and just get up and do,” says Butler.

The 12th annual Ride to Remember kicks off a 9 a.m. Saturday at Margarita Island.