Lawrence Chamber of Commerce leaders say there are many people in Douglas County who put their lives on the line every day for residents.
And now they want to bring more public recognition to law enforcement officers, firefighters and emergency medical services personnel annually with the new Valor Public Safety Awards Program.
“We are so proud to bring the Valor Public Safety Awards to Lawrence. It’s a very personal way to say thank you for a service we often take for granted,” said Cindy Yulich, the chamber’s chairwoman.
The chamber announced the new program presented by NIC Corporation on Thursday at a news conference with Yulich, chamber President and CEO Tom Kern, Chief Mark Bradford of Lawrence-Douglas County Fire Medical, Lawrence Police Chief Tarik Khatib and Douglas County Sheriff Ken McGovern.
The inaugural ceremony will be Oct. 14, during which gold, silver, bronze and meritorious service awards will be presented, and winners are eligible to receive a $1,000 scholarship for post-secondary education for their children.
Funds will be raised for the awards and scholarships at several events, including the Crown Automotive Valor Public Safety Awards Gold Tournament Oct. 7 at Alvamar Golf Course.
Any public safety workers in Douglas County, including township firefighters and officers, firefighters and medics in Baldwin City, Eudora and Lecompton are eligible for the awards.
Kern said he saw success through a similar program in Fairfax County in Virginia before he came to Lawrence, and he hoped that after several years enough funds could be built up that the scholarships could be supported by an endowment. More information is available at www.lawrencechamber.com.
Kern said the program was an effort to recognize high-profile, heroic efforts, such as fire rescues, and even acts that might fly under the radar, such as a corrections officer who helped an inmate who is having problems.
“Any time you can award or recognize people for going above and beyond service for the community, I think that’s really spectacular,” Bradford said.
Departments will make nominations, and the winners will be selected by a committee of community representatives and public safety officials.
“I think it becomes a very good opportunity on an annual basis just to be reminded that we are out there,” Khatib said. “We are part of what makes the community safe, and this lets us celebrate a night where we recognize the personnel doing this.”