Whelen Everyday Champion
Nominate your 2021 Whelen Everyday Champion
Whelen’s Everyday Champion annually celebrates and recognizes outstanding emergency services, individuals, or groups. We honor those who demonstrate bravery and courage during an act of exceptional valor, working tirelessly every day to help people and make our communities safer. Whelen Everyday Champions receive distinction in the Whelen Hall of Champions located at the NASCAR Hall of Fame in Charlotte, North Carolina. The Everyday Champions portion of the exhibit inspires greatness with a showcase of their inspiring story of heroism, bravery, and honor.
Do you know someone worthy of being recognized for their dedication to serve and protect? Now is your opportunity to nominate them! Please provide some basic information on this page so they can be entered into our application process. And thank you to everyone who puts their life on the line each and every day!
For further information on Whelen’s Everyday Champion, watch the video below.
Learn more about previous Champions
Learn more about previous Champions
2019: Andre Harris
Andre Harris rescued an infant from a burning vehicle on the night of July 27, 2018.
He was driving his tow truck back from a call when he took a detour due to a local fire department closing off a road to fight a house fire. Driving down Route 171 in Northport, Alabama, he saw a woman in the road frantically trying to flag him down. Off the shoulder and down a small hill, he noticed a car overturned and in flames. Jumping out of his truck, he asked if anyone was still inside. The woman told him her 7-month-old baby was trapped in the vehicle. She had gotten the infant out of his car seat, but could not get him out of the car. The smoke was so dense that difficult for him to keep his eyes open as he felt around for the infant. The fire had increased in intensity, and he could feel the baby’s ankle. He pulled him out and cradled him in his left arm, running back up the hill to his mother. Worried that the car would burst into flames, he ushered them safely behind his tow truck.
2018: Darin Peterson & Eric Watkins (Illinois)
On July 4, 2018, a bolt of lightning shot across the sky during the fireworks display in Sheridan, Illinois as St. Charles Fire Captain Darin Peterson and his wife were sitting in their car. It hit a tree about 30 feet away. Peterson immediately ran toward the tree, where he found an 18-year-old male in cardiac arrest, a victim of the lightning strike. As Peterson began CPR, Eric Watkins, a paramedic from the Plainfield Fire Protection District, joined him to help. As the two off-duty paramedics worked together to save the teen, they heard a blood-curdling scream. A 4-year-old girl had also been hit and was unresponsive, laying on the ground. Peterson ran to help her while Watkins continued CPR on the first victim.
Both victims survived, largely in part to the quick response from both men and their administration of CPR in the first crucial minutes. They strongly encourage everyone to learn CPR and educate themselves on storm safety.
2017: Assistant Fire Chief Darren Ware & Retired Deputy Fire Chief Tyrone Wells (Prince George's County FD)
After the funeral and interment services for Fire Fighter/Medic Lieutenant John “Skillet” Ulmschneider, Assistant Fire Chief Darren Ware saw a burning car on the side of the road in Brandywine, MD, and rushed to aid the woman inside. Retired Deputy Fire Chief Tyrone Wells saw Chief Ware running alongside the road and also noticed the vehicle.
During the initial extrication attempt, the driver pushed the accelerator, causing her vehicle to move forward and further down the embankment. The position of the vehicle prevented extrication from the driver’s side of the vehicle, but they were able to gain access and pull her through the passenger window.
2016: Brandi Kamper (Fort Worth PD)
In March of 2016, Officer Brandi Kamper rushed to the aid of fellow Officer Matt Pearce who was shot seven times when in pursuit of a fugitive. Kamper served in the U.S. Army as a combat medic, and she and a SWAT officer entered a thickly wooded area to locate Pearce.
Dressed in civilian clothing and with no weapons or body armor, Officer Kamper immediately began assessing and triaging Officer Pearce’s injuries, despite the danger of being in an open area. She applied a tourniquet to his leg, used a pressure bandage on his arm, and dressed three bullet wounds on his chest and shoulder. Kamper, along with other officers then carried Pearce up a wet, muddy hill to get him to a helicopter.
2015: Rich Petras, Ron Vargo, David Shantery (Cleveland FD)
“We were just driving down St. Clair and just happened to see it,” said firefighter Rich Petras. “We were just talking, driving to go pick up somebody and just happened to look over and saw the fire.”
By the time they arrived, the first floor was already engulfed in flames. “There were numerous neighbors and what not on the street alerting us to the fact that there were children in the home,” said firefighter Ron Vargo.
A 10-year-old boy was trapped in his bedroom as the firefighters scrambled to put on their gear.
“We heard him screaming for only a short period,” said firefighter David Shantery.
Shantery and Vargo were able to get to the boy, who was soon unconscious, and brought him out.
At the same time, firefighter Kenneth Guyton was at the back of the home, helping the boy’s 8-year-old sister who had jumped to save herself.
2014: Jay Farmer (Washington State Patrol)
On a cold October morning in 2013, a car careened off of I-90 in Ellensburg, WA and crashed into a freezing pond. There was one man inside the vehicle.
When Trooper Jay Farmer responded to the emergency call, he immediately began to plan for a water rescue. When he arrived at the scene, he observed several bystanders frantically pointing towards a car sinking in the water. The vehicle was now submerged to the roof and filling with water. Armed with a baton, Farmer entered the frigid pond and ignoring the cold, Kocker followed. Trooper Farmer and Mr. Kocker knew if they waited for water rescue or fire personnel, the vehicle would completely submerge and the driver would not survive.
The foggy windows made it difficult to see or hear anyone inside, so Trooper Farmer checked the doors to confirm they were locked. Farmer broke the right rear passenger window with his baton.
With the rear window broken, Farmer could hear the driver gurgling water and yelling from under the water. Through the debris in the vehicle Trooper Farmer was able to feel the shoulder of the driver but couldn’t get any closer. Farmer positioned himself on the roof of the vehicle and Mr. Kocker swam to the driver’s side. The driver’s door now opened, allowing the driver to emerge from the water just enough so he could take a deep breath. Farmer freed the driver from his seat belt, and the two men helped him ashore.
Trooper Jay Farmer’s quick response to the emergency scene and urgent rescue without regard to his own safety is truly an act of heroism and bravery. The willingness to risk one’s own safety to help a stranger is the ultimate in public service.