Schererville firefighter Christine Graf received state recognition recently when she received the Achievement of Excellence Award in Indianapolis, presented by the state Operation Lifesaver Program and CN Railroad.
A member of the Lake Hills Fire Department for five years, Graf was lauded for her involvement in Operation Lifesaver presentations at Tri-Town Safety Village in Schererville and for representing the program at 17 community events in 2012.
“Operation Lifesaver is a National Railroad Safety Program which has certified presenters that teach railroad safety programs to targeted audience groups,” Graf said.
“My husband, Eric, and I have been certified presenters for the past five years. Part of his duties as a railroad police officer is to teach the Operation Lifesaver Program.”
“When I saw what an impact he was having with the children, I wanted to be part of the important message.”
The award also highlighted Graf’s coordination of the police and fire parade for 3-year-old cancer patient Adler Shelbourne in January, 2012.
“We reached out to all our friends in law enforcement, fire departments and our friends in the rail industry. We gathered so many presents and so much support we decided to do a parade in honor of him,” she said.
Although Adler later died, Graf said the experience had a profound effect. “I attended the funeral, my husband played the bagpipes at his funeral and we are forever friends with the Shelbourne family.”
“It made us realize how blessed we were as a family and how many people suffer through tragic cancer stories. Now, every time we hear of a child, a family in need, I get involved and so does my family.”
A former firefighter and Emergency Medical Technician with the Glenwood (Ill.) Fire Department, Graf enjoys the fast pace and variety in her work.
“There is no average day. Fire, auto accident, hazardous material release, train accident – you just never know what can happen,” she said.
“You see things, hear things and do things that most people run away from. Incredible tragedies happen on a daily bases and you have to learn to deal with all of these situations and not let them drag you down.”
“But the best part about this job will always be helping those in their most desperate time of need.”