Community members came together on Aug. 18 to celebrate first responders in the fourth annual Protectors of Elizabeth Tribute, held in the park at 500 E. Kiowa Ave.
Hundreds of community members were present to support Elizabeth Fire Rescue, the Elizabeth Police Department, the Elbert County Sheriff’s Office and the Colorado State Patrol.
To highlight the tribute, live music was performed by the Denver-based Steve Thomas Band, an ‘80s cover band that specializes in high-energy arena rock. Complimentary pizza, nachos and beverages were provided for attendees and child-centered activities were also available.
“This is our fourth year coming to support the first responders,” said local mother Jenn Thorson as she watched her children play in the police-themed bouncy castle and inflatable slide. “It is always a well-put-together event and I love coming together as a community.”
The event was hosted by The Means Agency in association with Farmers Insurance. Organizer Don Means expressed the need to honor Elizabeth’s first responders. “We see so many counties and cities who don’t show adequate appreciation,” said Means. “We must thank our local first responders.”
Though the event is meant as a tribute to all first responders, The Means Agency paid a special tribute to Elizabeth Fire Rescue prior to the event.
“Elizabeth Fire Rescue not only protects our community, but they have the Elizabeth Firefighters Community Foundation which provides programs for fire victims, community assistance, and business assistance,” said The Means Agency in a social media statement from Aug. 16. “The mission of the foundation shall be to promote education and mentoring to mankind, young or old, to cast a hand in time of need, while maintaining the bond of kindness and caring to all, without the boundaries of prejudice.”
Several nonprofit organizations were present at the event. Healing Hounds of Colorado is an Elizabeth-based organization founded by Nancy Brandt that aims to provide first responders with emotional support dog therapy. The organization partners with first-responder agencies and counseling services to help reduce the stress, anxiety, fatigue, and emotional unrest that first responders experience as part of their job.
“I was in a bad car accident several years back and the Elizabeth first responders helped save my life,” said Laura Kissinger, a volunteer with Healing Hounds. “This is my way of giving back.”
Eagle’s Nest Ranch, an Elizabeth-based 501(c)(3) organization, was also present at the event to support and raise money for the first responders.
Eagle’s Nest Ranch provides a First Responders Program to support first responders and their families through individual or family sessions with horses. According to the flier the nonprofit distributed at the event, their desire is to “help first responders and their families through the stresses they experience due to intense work.”
Deputy Clay Livingston of the Elbert County Sheriff’s Office expressed his thanks to the community for their support. “This is my second year at the event,” said Livingston. “It is nice to see the community come together and show their appreciation.”
Healing Hounds of Colorado is currently seeking volunteers. For more information, visit healinghoundsinc.org.
For more information on Eagle’s Nest Ranch, visit eaglesnestranch.org.
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