Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Valor Awards: Celebrating Gwinnett’s Public Safety Professionals

In celebration of the men and women who protect and serve our county by always being prepared, the Gwinnett Chamber and Presenting Sponsor Mobile Communications of Gwinnett, Inc. will host the Valor Awards on March 26, 2010 at 11:30 a.m. at The Atlanta Marriott – Gwinnett Place. The keynote speaker at the event will be Sergeant Major Billy Waugh, Green Beret and CIA Operative. This special reception will honor those in public safety by presenting awards to the men and women who have given the most to protect and serve the citizens of Gwinnett. The program will feature the presentation of the Purple Heart Award, Lifesaving Award, Public Safety Person of the Year, Public Safety Unit of the Year, Communications Person of the Year, Medal of Merit and the Medal of Valor.

In honor of the fifth anniversary of the Gwinnett Chamber's Valor Awards, there are five very good reasons why you should attend this year's ceremony, including:

Number One: Because Gwinnett's first responders are there for us when we need them.
For Mobile Communications of Gwinnett's Cathy Nichols, the Valor Awards gives her the chance to give back to Gwinnett's first responders. "We take for granted that when we dial 911 if a child is hurt or a house is on fire or there has been a car accident that our first responders will be there…every time."

Nichols, who serves on the Valor Awards Steering Committee, noted that too often, we forget to thank this group and the Valor Awards allows us the opportunity to pay tribute to a few of these local heroes.

Number Two: For all the little things that our public safety professionals do to keep our community safe that oftentimes go unnoticed.

Duluth Police Department Lieutenant Bill Stevens, who also serves on the Valor Awards Steering Committee, reminds us of many incidents that go on every day all over our county without the public ever seeing their public safety officers' efforts.

"Take for instance the icy conditions we experienced in early January," said Lt. Stevens. "On days like that, we have both fire and police vehicles on the roads early in the mornings ensuring patches of ice don't become death traps. On the fire side, engine companies check on home-bound individuals making sure they are safe and warm."

Other acts can be seen on a daily basis from the law enforcement community, Lt. Stevens added, including everything from officers changing tires on cars to training adults on how to put a child passenger safety seat in their vehicle to correcting safety hazards on roadside construction. "Incidents, such as when the Duluth Police Department found an elderly gentleman wondering around the city who could not remember who he was or where he lived, often go unnoticed. One of our officers was able to locate the man's family three hours away and provided personal funds for a meal until his family arrived. The Valor Awards gives the community a chance to thank public safety professionals however small or large the heroic act."

Number Three: They put themselves in the line of fire to protect us.
Valor Awards Steering Committee Member and Gwinnett County Police Officer Major Mindy Bayreuther's fondest memories of the Valor Awards was last year when the Gold Medal of Valor was awarded to Gwinnett County Police Department Officer James Huth and the Purple Heart Award was given to Corporal William Hoch and Sgt. Michael McKeithan. "All three officers, who put themselves in the line of fire while serving an arrest warrant, received a standing ovation at the ceremony. Although the officers will tell you that they were just doing their jobs, they performed extraordinary acts of bravery and heroism. The Valor Awards gives the officers the opportunity to be recognized by the community for their huge sacrifices."

Number Four: The business community and public safety professionals must work together to keep our community safe.
Major Mindy Bayreuther also commented that the Valor Awards reinforces the importance of working together to keep our community safe. "We need each other. The citizens are our eyes and ears. They are an important piece of the puzzle providing crucial information that leads to arrests of criminals that otherwise would be on the streets."

Valor Awards Steering Committee member and Gwinnett County Assistant Fire Chief David Dusik added that working together creates a better educated public that is proactive to safety instead of being reactionary.

Number Five: To simply say, "Thank you."
Amazed by the stories of Gwinnett's men and women in uniform, Nichols said that you often hear these men and women say that they 'didn't have to think about it' or 'it's just what I do.' "The Valor Awards gives the community the opportunity to see the sacrifices that our police, fire, sheriff, dispatch and EMS personnel make for us every day and thank them."

An excellent way to show your appreciation to these dedicated men and women is to sponsor a table at the Valor Awards. Sponsorships allow public safety professionals and families of those nominated for awards to attend the luncheon. Your company will be recognized in the awards program and the table will be reserved for the honorees in your company's name.

Join the Chamber and Presenting Sponsor Mobile Communications of Gwinnett in saying 'thank you' to Gwinnett's public safety professionals. For more information on sponsorships or to register for the Valor Awards, contact Nicole Wright at 770-232- 8816 or or visit

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