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Annual Ronald McDonald House's Fire Truck Pull at Seville Quarter
Fire Truck Pull: First responders answer the call for kids
News Journal Corresponden
Pulling a fire truck is tough job, even for a team of 15, but that's little compared to the burdens carried by families who find themselves in need of the Ronald McDonald House.
On Saturday morning, more than 30 teams made up of first responders, students and business owners, to name just a few, competed at Seville Quarter as part of the Ronald McDonald House's annual fire truck pull.
Proceeds from the event go to support the organization that serves as a home away from home for parents like Brent and Amber Croft of Dothan, Ala. Their son, Christian, was born 10 weeks prematurely in August, weighing just over one-and-a-half pounds, and they've been at the Ronald McDonald House in Pensacola ever since.
"It's only when you hit rock bottom and the world takes away pretty much everything nice from you that you can truly see the light, and Ronald McDonald House gave us that light," Amber Croft said.
She added that for families like hers, the support that the Ronald McDonald House provides in addition to beds and meals is priceless.
"You've always got an ear," she said. "You've always got someone who's willing to listen to you and cares about your child. If you don't have some sort of outlet it's easy to get depressed and really down."
Brent Croft struggled to find the words to describe his feelings for those at the house.
"I think for them - it's almost like a calling for those people," he said. "I don't know how hard it is for them. I think it just comes naturally."
The Crofts aren't the only parents from Dothan currently using the Ronald McDonald House. Christina Turner, whose daughter Zoey was born prematurely in September, is just weeks into what is expected to be a lengthy stay in Pensacola.
"It's a true blessing, and honestly without them I'd probably be sleeping in the waiting room at the hospital," said Turner. "I could do a hotel for a few nights but it gets expensive, you know."
Russell Lamotte, a firefighter competing with the team from Pensacola's fire house No. 1 on Cervantes Street, said that there's not much than can be done to prepare for pulling a truck by hand.
"It's heavy, man – those things carry 720 gallons of water," Lamotte said after his team's first race. "We get time to work out at the station but you can't simulate this."
The annual event coincides with the kickoff of the Ronald McDonald House's 30th year in Pensacola. According to the organization, over 1000 families utilized the facility on Bayou Boulevard in 2012. Of those families, 745 of those came from the Florida Panhandle.
And for families like the Crofts, the event is an opportunity to get out and have some fun for a little while.
"Just the sense of community in Pensacola astounds me," Amber Croft said."We've been down here since July 23rd, so there's no normality, and it's nice to get out here and know that there's life and people are living their lives."