Last night was a typical nasty February night in Iowa. Cold. Windy. The four inches of snow that had fallen nearly 24 hours earlier was blowing and drifting on rural roads. It was the kind of night where you’d like to be inside, wrapped in a blanket and curled up with a good book near a warm, crackling fire.
But at a banquet I emceed at the Mississippi Valley Fairgrounds in Davenport, there was a warmth that only friendship and fellowship can bring. And I was happy to be a part of it.
Each year for the last decade or so, I have been asked by Gil Short or one of his associates to be the master of ceremonies at the annual awards banquet of Speedway-Fire Rescue, which Gil founded some three decades ago. I think I’ve only missed one, and that was due to another commitment. My friend, Steve Donovan, subbed for me.
SFR is a dedicated group of volunteers who provide fire protection and rescue and medical services at speedways and a dragstrip in eastern Iowa and western Illinois plus the annual Quad-City Air Show.
They’ve saved lives and property, and they’ve eased a lot pain and anxiety over the years. I’ve seen it first hand. They’re a great group of people, and I’m happy to help them in any way I can. In fact, Sherry and I have donated three sets of “turnout gear” over the years to SFR.
I’m also honored to be a part of that group. No, I’m not an active member. When I’m at a race track, I’m working as an announcer or media relations guy. And my volunteer firefighting days (27 years of them) were spent in my community, Walcott. Although I’m on the WFD Auxiliary, I retired from active duty in 2003. Firefighting is best done by people younger than me.
I’m part of SFR, though, because some years back the group began periodically appointing honorary members in appreciation of the support they’ve given the unit.
Along with my friends, retired race driver and promoter Jim Gerber and racing flagman and racing photo historian Doug Haack, I was in the first group of honorees.
I couldn’t be prouder of that honor.
Copyright 2009 by Phil Roberts, Creative Enterprises.