For 20 years, first responders and emergency personnel have helped us save lives and keep families safe. In doing so, they often put their lives and well-being at risk. As part of our 20th anniversary celebration, we are giving back, helping support these brave men and women the same way that they’ve helped so many. We identified 20 public safety personnel who experienced serious physical injury or hardship and awarded each of them $20,000.
Marnee Smith was one of those 20 first responders. Some might say she’s one in a million. The wife and mother of five volunteered for years as a county volunteer firefighter, after investing her own money to become certified as an emergency medical technician (EMT) to help her county’s struggling volunteer fire department.
Cooke County, Texas, is nestled midway along the east wing of Texas right up against the Oklahoma border. Travel south on I-35 and you’ll see the quintessential Texas flatlands. Head east along 82 and the landscape gives way to more verdant forests. “You have a lot of small communities, and they are pretty close-knit,” Marnee says. “You get to know everybody around; it has a really small-town feel.”