Rick and Cindy Atkins help themselves to food at the 2nd Annual Thank You Day Picnic for local police, fire, EMT and volunteer departments. The couple is involved with the American Red Cross and Rick is a member of the Van Buren Volunteer Fire Department. The celebration doubled as a fundraiser for local firefighter Shane Zurcher.
By MEG GREY
Someone has said "thank you" to our local heroes -- police, the sheriff's department, fireighters, emergency medical technicians and volunteers. That "someone" is the French Funeral Home. The company conducted the second annual Thank You Day Picnic Saturday in the Forest Park pavilion.
The event stemmed from an idea the family originally thought of before the 9/11 attacks.
"We decided to do this to say thanks to people who spend everyday of their lives saving ours," Nick French says.
The concept of the Thank You Day Picnic was well received by Brazil Fire Department Chief Joe Bennett.
"All emergency services appreciate Dr. French and the funeral home for recognizing us with this picnic," states Bennett.
Members of the Brazil and Volunteer Fire Departments, Athens Ambulance, American Red Cross, Brazil Police Department, Clay County Sheriff Department and EMTs were in attendance.
Attractions included entertainment provided by deejay Brian Thomas of the 97.7 morning show and a hog roast by French Funeral Home.
The picnic was also a fundraiser to benefit local firefighter Shane Zurcher, who was diagnosed with testicular cancer earlier this year. Zurcher, a seven-year member of the Brazil City Fire Department, was handed a check for over $5,000 from fellow firefighters after a fundraiser was held in his honor during the Rotary's Fourth of July celebration to help pay his bills from surgery, chemotherapy and rehabilitation. This time the fundraiser was on a smaller scale with a designated fireman's boot at the end of the buffet table.
Mayor Kenny Crabb dropped by to show his appreciation for all of the honored departments. He said that he thinks the Thank You Day Picnic is wonderful and that there is no one more deserving than the fire and police departments and the EMTs because they all do their jobs very well and are so modest about it.
He said he came to mingle with all of the departments that are so important to our community and that he really admires the excellent co-operation between county volunteer and paid departments.
"This occasion means someone is taking notice," Crabb says.
Rick Atkins of the Van Buren Volunteer Fire Department and the American Red Cross of the Wabash Valley and his wife, Cindy attended the event for several reasons; to represent the Red Cross as well as the Van Buren department and to get more people involved in the Red Cross. The Atkinses have recently spent a lot of time in Clay County due to the recent flooding disasters and are currently covering the entire county by themselves.
"We can always use help," Rick said with a hearty sigh.
Anyone interested in becoming involved with the American Red Cross may contact the office at 232-3393.