Event honoring Virginia Beach’s volunteer rescue members becomes announcement of bigger thanks: Rock the Squads, coming in May

Virginia Beach Mayor Will Sessoms makes an announcement at the Virginia Aquarium about the Rock the Squads event planned to recognize the contributions of volunteer rescue personnel. [John-Henry Doucette/The Princess Anne Independent News]

OCEANFRONT — Volunteer rescue squad members and their families visited the Virginia Aquarium & Marine Science Center last month, part of an annual thank you to the city’s 10 all-volunteer squads — and an announcement of a bigger show of thanks to come.

“We’ve done this for almost 10 years,” Emergency Medical Services Chief Ed Brazle said on Sunday, Jan. 15. “One night a year, we rent out the aquarium and have two movies. … This is our biggest rescue event of the year, but we’re about to have a bigger one.”

Moments before a showing in the aquarium 3D theater, Brazle introduced Mayor Will Sessoms, who used to be a volunteer squad member. “When I had hair,” the mayor told the crowd, “I used to serve.”

Sessoms then announced a special event by posing a question Virginia Beach city government so seldom does.

“Does everyone in here like to rock? Well, we’re going to Rock the Squads.”

On Sunday, May 7, the city will thank its 1,100 volunteer rescue personnel with an event from noon to 5 p.m. at Mount Trashmore City Park. Rock the Squads is being put on by the city and the Virginia Beach Volunteer Rescue Squad Foundation with the help of sponsors. Volunteers and families will have a catered lunch. Then the volunteers, wearing commemorative shirts, will gather on the hill for a group photograph and video. 

Later, there will be music and entertainment, including for the general public, and food for sale. Also, there will be information for people who are not yet volunteers to learn about benefits of their service.

At the aquarium, Sessoms said the volunteers were heroes of the city who needed to be recognized accordingly. 

 So many people had come out to the aquarium, Sessoms then walked with Brazle to another room to make the announcement to a group of families. The 3D theater had special glasses, but this room had cake.

Later, volunteer Jeremy Newman and his family enjoyed interacting with cownose rays at the aquarium’s touch pool.

Newman lives in Norfolk, about 30 feet from its border with Virginia Beach. The Navy petty officer first class has been volunteering for a year and a half when he isn’t busy serving as a firefighting instructor. 

He said he volunteers in Virginia Beach for the experience, but he also cares about serving the community.

“I love it,” Newman said. “Being able to help people is pretty rewarding.”

Jeremy Newman of Norfolk, a volunteer rescue squad member who usually serves at Davis Corner, is seen during a special EMS volunteer family night event at the Virginia Aquarium & Marine Science Center. With him at the aquarium’s cownose ray touch pool are his wife, Megan Newman, and their children, 6-year-ol twins Abby and Caroline, 3-year-old Ainsly and 1-year-old Wayne. [John-Henry Doucette/The Princess Anne Independent News]
Emily Dawson, 2, takes a break from cake to applaud after Sessoms’ announcement. Her mom, Kari Dawson of Arrowhead, is a volunteer. [John-Henry Doucette/The Princess Anne Independent News]

For more information about Rock the Squads, including sponsorship opportunities, reach Ashley Martin at (757) 456-5212. For information about volunteering with a rescue squad, visit livesneedsaving.org.

© 2017 Pungo Publishing Co., LLC

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