Appreciation dinner ‘Puts First Responders First’

By NATHAN HOWELL | Staff Writer

HELENA – Police officers, firefighters and other first responders and their families were honored during Helena’s first “Putting First Responders First” event on Aug. 5.

The dinner, held at the Helena Sports Complex, was designed as an opportunity for the community to come together in a visible way to honor those who risk their lives in the line of duty.

Organizer and City Councilmember Leigh Hulsey said she started the nonprofit Putting First Responders First as a way to create events like this to publicly recognized the work these groups put it.

“I think at the end of the day I just wanted an opportunity to serve our community of first responders,” Hulsey said. “They are always serving us and we wanted to create a night to take care of the ones that serve us.”

Residents were invited to come and line the red carpet and treat their police officers and firefighters like celebrities as they walked into the dinner. Young athletes from Helena High School, residents and city and state leaders cheered on as their service members and their families walked the carpet.

Before the dinner started, Helena Mayor Brian Puckett addressed the crowd of first responders, expressing his gratefulness for their hard work.

“You all see my every day, but this is a great opportunity to have your families here and know how much you are appreciated by the community and the city,” Puckett said. “Without each of you this city would not function. Day in and day out when you put your lives on the lines with things like a fire or high-speed chases, you always put yourselves out there for this community. I know it greatly appreciates everything you do each day.”

The event featured a catered dinner for the first responders and their families, musical entertainment by Cam Spinks, who competed on The Voice, and a number of prizes that were funded by an abundance of donations from the community.

There were more than $2,000 in prizes donated by local groups and individuals such as Helena Hardware, high school student Brooks Bedsole, Helena Council President Alice Lobell, Helena Health Club, Primrose School of Riverwoods, CrossFit Alabaster, Golden Rule BBQ of Helena, Helena Nutrition. Big Time Bounce, Shelby County Sheriff’s Office and Sheriff Samaneigo, Councilman Hewy Woodman, former Mayor Mark Hall, State Senator April Weaver, Leigh Hulsey for State House and others.

During the event, Hulsey expressed her gratefulness for the community to come together and support the first responders, while adding a personal touch from her own perspective.

“I just wanted to let you all know that we sincerely appreciate you guys,” Hulsey said. “I am incredibly thankful for our first responders, they mean a whole lot to our family. We have had a lot of servicemen in our family as well, and it is very important to us to recognize them.”

Photos available at Shelbycountyphotos.com.