Stalwart volunteer Purcell McCue took special honors at a typically emotional awards dinner for the Western Albemarle Rescue Squad Feb. 4 at King Family Vineyards.
WARS president Bill Wood opened the evening remarking, “I’d like to thank 99.9 percent of you not just for being here, but for being at all—because of the job you do. The community appreciates what you do.”
Bob and Leanne Knox, both pillars of the squad, took the mike to say thank you to their fellow volunteers for emotional support with their family tragedy. Leanne was on duty recently when a call to an accident at the I-64 exit ramp came in. She arrived to find it was her son involved in a horrible motorcycle accident. The Knoxes had come to the dinner from U.Va. hospital. Bob told their story and summed it up saying, “The U.Va. slogan of ‘a miracle every day’ is true.”
County Fire Rescue Chief Dan Eggleston congratulated WARS for being “known as an organization that gets things done. It’s not just what you do for the community but for the whole county system because of the committees you serve on.” He praised WARS for setting up a water rescue team that gained the respect of the Central Virginia. He singled out WARS Chief Kostis Alibertis, in the job since 2000, for his leadership in the county. “The entire system is better because of what you do. Thank you.”
Presentation of the awards was preceded by a slick slideshow of the past year. Pictures of car wrecks flashed by, along with the view from an ambulance cab as it careened toward an emergency down a dark country road. There was the squad using the light package on its heavy rescue truck to illuminate the new downtown plaza’s location. Others showed the quotidian moments of waiting on call in the squad house, wisecracking and comic scenes, water rescue practice at Mint Springs Park, out on the job in heavy snow, staining the squad house’s back deck, touring kids through the vehicle bays and the showing off the trucks, taking care of a bear cub, and in the Fourth of July parade. All Volunteer, All The Time, the show summed up with the squad’s slogan.
The Frances Henry Award for the member who made the most runs in the year went to Taylor Tereskerz.
Member of the Year was Jose Larraburu.
Rookie of the Year went to Corey Croson.
The President’s Award was conferred on Michael Bauer and the Chief’s Award went to Will Barnhardt, who—our misfortune—is moving to Utah.
Donna Burns was called forward for a special award.
Recognition of McCue began with another slideshow tribute that retraced his service to the squad. “Thank you for taking us under your wing,” it said. “Thank you for amazing breakfasts. Thank you for making us laugh. Thank you for knowing so many people in Crozet. Thank you for being a role model. Thank you for being a father to us. Thank you for 15 years of service. We love you! WARS family.”
McCue got a heartfelt standing ovation.
WARS now has 80 members and is answering 1,500 calls a year.