The Red, Blue and You organization held its annual event celebrating the local heroes of Gwinnett County’s emergency services.
The event and luncheon took place on Thursday, Nov. 18, at the Buford Arena. Law enforcement, firefighters and EMS workers all gathered with their families to be recognized for what they do in service of the community. Leading up to the ceremony, first responders from across the county mingled as an airplane with a banner reading, “Thanks Heroes,” flew overhead and a police helicopter landed in the parking lot.
Before the event began, Major Joel Whitt, commander of the Gwinnett County Police Department North Precinct, said, “Red, Blue and You is a wonderful event. It helps us to celebrate all of the public safety workers, fire, police, sheriffs, educators, health care workers … and everyone in the community who keeps our community safe and prosperous.”
The ceremony opened with the presentation of colors by the Gwinnett County Fire and Police Honor Guard followed by the National Anthem performed by the Buford Middle School chorus.
Next, Raymer Sale, founder of Red, Blue and You, introduced some of the organization’s key sponsors — Gwinnett medical examiner Dr. Carol Terry and president of the Northside Gwinnett Foundation Jason Chandler. Both sponsors spoke of their appreciation for all of the public servants throughout the county, stressing that the event could not do enough to honor them.
Nicole Love Hendrickson, chairwoman of the Gwinnett County Board of Commissioners also voiced her gratitude to all the first responders before Nick Masino, CEO of the Gwinnett Chamber of Commerce, delivered his thanks via video.
There was also a brief video highlighting Gwinnett County fire services, which celebrates its 50th anniversary this year.
Gwinnett County Fire Chief Russell Knick then honored Capt. Clayton Wright of Engine 19 for his outstanding service to the community. Wright, at great risk to his own personal safety, entered the second story of a burning home twice to locate and rescue a resident with a disability. Of his heroic actions, Captain Wright said, “The honor goes back to our crew. None of that would’ve been possible without the crew. They did an amazing job. They completed more tasks in five minutes than four crews did on scene.”
After a salute to the teachers and health care workers present, Suwanee Police Chief Cass Mooney recognized Det. Todd Pacholke for his remarkable actions. Pacholke responded to a call and discovered an unconscious woman. Deducing she was likely experiencing a narcotic overdose, Pacholke rendered life-saving first aid and CPR to the woman until medical personnel were able to relieve him.
On behalf of Red, Blue and You, Sale also presented the various Gwinnett County Explorers Clubs, programs that introduce youth in the community to public service positions, with a check for $14,000.
The ceremony concluded with the Buford Middle School chorus singing, “We are the World” and “Good Job.”
After the ceremony, as most of the attendees made their way to a catered luncheon, Sale said, “The purpose of the organization is to say thank you to these folks because they don’t get a lot of thank yous … These people are just like you and me. They have families, they have emotions, they have anxieties … but you can’t say thank you enough to these folks.”