On Friday, September 11, 2015, when my wife and I walked into the ballroom of the Speedway Club on the 9th floor, overlooking Texas Motor Speedway, we saw a sea of uniforms worn by police and firefighters from all across Denton County.
First Responders and their families, friends and other supporters filled the room to capacity, as they joined together to honor the men and women who risk their lives every day in service to others.
The spectacular event was the 14th Annual Heroes of Denton County (HDC) Awards and Recognition Banquet. Texas State Senator Jane Nelson, an indefatigable champion of those valiant emergency service personnel, which also include paramedics, emergency medical technicians and telecommunicators, was her usual charming self as master of ceremonies for the evening.
Lewisville Police Chief Russ Kerbow, Chairman of HDC, spoke eloquently about the origins of the organization and the support the group has received during the past 14 years, since the horrendous attack on our country.
Andy Allison, the keynote speaker, mesmerized the huge gathering when he talked about a debilitating injury he sustained in 2012, when, as a Lewisville firefighter, he was electrocuted while fighting a house fire. The newly married 29-year-old suffered severe injuries to several parts of his body, including a broken back.
Situations like Allison’s are when HDC swings into action. They provided funds to help the hero reconstruct his body and his life.
Gary Lewis, area president of Independent Bank in Highland Village, and a board member of HDC, came over for an interview recently. We had the privilege of being seated at his table for this event, along with state reps. Tan Parker and Ron Simmons. Mr. Lewis, one of the founders and CEO of United Community Bank in Highland Village, before assuming his current position, is a staunch advocate for those who watch over us, day and night.
The respect and admiration for our first responders was abundantly evident as numerous elected officials made their way around the room, stopping to chat with uniformed personnel and their families. The job they perform seems to get tougher and more dangerous every day, but, try to imagine how dangerous our lives would be if they weren’t there for us.
Thankfully, with people like Gary Lewis and scores of others who recognize the invaluable services rendered by our public guardians, these men and women can do their jobs without fear of being abandoned by an apathetic community.
On a personal note, I was thrilled to see so many familiar faces that have graced my home for Cross Timbers Gazette interviews during the past few years. Many of the police and fire chiefs, the sheriff, some constables and more than a few judges were among the impressive assemblage.
For this old retired cop, it was like a blast from the past!
Please watch the short video for more info on the founding of HDC.