Nearly 600 law enforcement, firefighter and EMT personnel, including distinguished guests and other community members, turned out for Vanquish Worldwide’s Honoring our Heroes appreciation event on Friday, June 19.
Vanquish, based in Maryville, Tenn., extended an invitation to first responders from more than 200 police, fire and emergency medical agencies in Blount, Campbell, Grainger, Jefferson, Knox, Loudon, Morgan, Anderson, Sevier and Roane counties.
Worldwide President and CEO Eric W. Barton said that he hoped Friday’s event was an example to the nation to show appreciation to the men and women “who make such a big impact and a difference in our lives,” and to their family members.
“You men and women protect us. You protect our property, our loved ones. You’re always there for us in emergencies and so many times you don’t get a thank you,” he said. Barton also recognized family members of the first responders.
“They’re not wearing the badge but they’re making the sacrifices alongside you in most cases. This is truly not about the pomp and circumstance. This is about you and about saying thank you and showing our appreciation and our love for what you do,” Barton said.
Maryville Firefighter Steven Talbott, who came with several of his coworkers, said he appreciated the support from Vanquish and the community.
“We know the community is standing behind us, which we don’t do it for that, but we do appreciate them standing behind us,” Talbott said.
“The community appreciates us. You don’t get that a lot,” Maryville Police Department Animal Control Sgt. Eddie King, who has been with the department 26 years, said.
“And also that a company would go to this extreme just to show appreciation, it’s been great. We really appreciate it,” Marcus Walker, also with Maryville Police Department for 17 years, said.
Also in attendance during Friday’s free appreciation event was U.S. Rep. John J. “Jimmy” Duncan, Knox County Mayor Tim Burchett, Blount County Mayor Ed Mitchell and state representatives Art Swann, Bob Ramsey and Jimmy Matlock.
“When I found out you were going to honor the policemen and firefighters and emergency workers I wanted to at least be a small part of this program. … It’s certainly an honor for me to be here,” Duncan said. “We have to let our law enforcement people enforce the laws of this country or we’ll have anarchy.”
In addition to Duncan, Maryville Police and Fire Chief Tony Crisp addressed the crowd.
“We’re humbled to be honored. … There’s no doubt in the last several months that the law enforcement industry we’ve taken a lot of hits, but I tell you this community has always rallied around our law enforcement, our emergency service people,” Crisp said.
“What the men and women you see in uniform today that is out here or with the star on their name tag that’s the people who do the important work in this community,” he added. “When you call 911 whatever your emergency may be – ambulance, fire or police – that’s the people who respond.”
“Actually enforcing the law is a small part of what police officers do every day. Police officers may be the first responders to medical emergencies and deliver critical life-saving aid. It isn’t enforcing the law, but it is law enforcement,” Ken Mickiewicz, Front Range Training and Consulting vice president of operations and a retired police officer with nearly 40 years of service, said. Front Range is a subsidiary of Vanquish Worldwide.
“Those young men and women who get into this profession enter it with only ideas: honor, service, protection. They’ve sworn to protect their friends, their families, their communities. Not everything they do is easy and not everything they do comes out the way they hoped it would, but they do it anyway because they swore to protect their families,” he added.
The event included food and refreshments, entertainment, horses and fun activities for the whole family. Vanquish also sold event T-shirts, where 100 percent of the proceeds benefited Faternal Order of Police, which offers college scholarships and sponsors the “Shop With a Cop” program. Over $300 was raised during Friday’s event.