Every year, the Sugar Hill-Montford Cove Fire Department asks fifth graders at West Marion Elementary to write an essay on “What is a hero?”

And, the winners of the essay contest get treated to ice cream and pizza, gift cards to Firehouse Subs, a tour of the fire trucks and facility and a ride in a truck at the Christmas parade for first place.

“I’m always impressed every year with a lot of things they write about and points that are brought up that you don’t think about,” said firefighter Zeb Wyatt.

This year’s winner was fifth grader Reagan Hemphill. Second place winner was Abby Edwards. They are both in Chelsea Mannick’s class at West Marion.

“First to be a hero, I think it takes a lot of things. You have to be a brave person to be a hero, knowing you might have to sacrifice your own life for another’s. Also you can’t be selfish,” reads one part of Hemphill’s essay.

She personally said her mom is her hero because she “tries really hard to make us happy and she likes going out and doing things with me and having fun.”

Edwards’ essay talked about heroes having three things in common: courage, generosity and a hard worker. She said her dad is her hero.

“He does a lot for me. I don’t have words to describe how kind he is. He’s really kind,” she said. “He works hard so he can buy me things I want.”

The girls had lots of questions for the firefighters during their party. Edwards asked, “What is it like being a firefighter?”

“Sometimes it’s rewarding, and sometimes it’s sad, stressful and fun. There are a lot of ups and downs if you stay in it long enough,” said Chief Joe Washburn. “You learn not to let things drag you down.”

He explained the average enrollment of the SHFD is about 30 volunteers. This year they have responded to about 460 calls, compared to 513 last year.

“Those who volunteer at the fire department have a heart for volunteering,” said Wyatt. “The only thing that is volunteer is when you sign up—it’s a responsibility.”

Get today’s top stories right in your inbox. Sign up for our daily newsletter.

Recommended for you