People from all over the Region gathered at the MAAC Foundation training facility on Saturday, August 27 to celebrate the MAAC Foundation’s First Responder Appreciation and Demonstration Day. The free event was packed with countless fun things that the entire family could enjoy—everything from watching helicopters take off and land up close, touching and exploring all kinds of first responder vehicles, and dunking first responders in a dunk tank.
The event was a great opportunity for people to show some appreciation and support for the community’s first responders but it was also a great way for the community to learn more about exactly what it is first responders do.
“Education is key to us becoming not only better aware and more knowledgeable about what it takes to be a first responder but also to be able to experience how hard they work to prepare to serve. Without us being able to educate and share those stories with the community sometimes that message doesn’t get across,” said Celina Weatherwax, MAAC Foundation President.
The message got across at the event. Kids and their parents got to watch how first responders have to quickly change into their bulky uniforms to respond to emergencies in time. Families also got to observe how close firefighters have to get to fires to put them out. It was fun to watch all the different demonstrations, but it was also eye-opening to how much work first responders do. The event was truly the perfect combination of fun and informative.
“We hope that they become better connected with their first responder agencies in their home, but we also hope that they are a little bit more mindful about all the work that goes into them being prepared and at the ready for when an emergency is present,” said Weatherwax.
Adam Friday, Lieutenant of Burns Harbor Fire Department, explained that before the MAAC Foundation built the training facility, there wasn’t a training facility in Northwest Indiana for first responders. Friday is excited that there is now a place where first responders can train as well as a place where they can teach people more about what they do. He loves seeing people’s faces as he shows them the work that he does.
“I can’t thank the MAAC Foundation enough for allowing us to do this demonstration and I want to thank all the people who are coming out to support first responders. It’s a great, great thing to do,” said Lieutenant Friday.
The MAAC Foundation is incredibly grateful for all the support they’ve been given to throw this special event for the community’s first responders.
“The MAAC is a nonprofit organization, so we are sustained by the generosity of our communities. Today we have the most humble and kindest people here. Over 100 volunteers are trying to do the best they can to support us today and it is so appreciated—many thanks to our volunteers and of course, the sponsors that allowed us to launch this,” said Weatherwax.
The event had many sponsors. The main sponsor of the event was of course General Insurance Services. GIS staff members stood at the event’s entrance greeting everyone and handing out maps. Without the generosity of GIS, and its many volunteers, the day truly wouldn’t have been possible. Another big contributor to the day’s event was Larson-Danielson Construction. Not only is Larson-Danielson a sponsor, but the business is also responsible for building the first responder training facilities.
“We’ve been involved with the MAAC Foundation since day one—since the board came together and the first project started with a pole barn with a dirt floor. We saw their vision from the beginning and have shared their dream of providing training for first responders. We have been their partner for each phase of construction of their campus in Valparaiso. Before the MAAC Foundation, first responders had to travel, sometimes out of state, to get the mandatory training they needed. Having trained first responders is essential to the safety and security of our community and to have been able to support the MAAC Foundation, its growth, and its mission has been incredibly rewarding,” said Robin Witte, Larson-Danielson Architect.
On Saturday evening, the MAAC Foundation will also hold a first responders appreciation concert at the Porter County Expo Center. This year’s concert will feature Joe Dee Messina and will be followed by a firework show that no one will want to miss.