PARAGOULD, AR (KAIT) - Greene County residents gathered together to say "thank you" to the ones who fight to keep them safe.
The second annual Marvin Exum First Responders Lunch took place on Thursday at the Paragould Community Center.
The event was presented by M. F. Block Insurance, Strategi and Transportation Insurance Specialists.
Kirk Cupp, a partner at M. F. Block Insurance, Strategi and Transportation Insurance, said the event is named after a huge first responder supporter.
"As you can tell, the name of the event is the Marvin Exum Memorial First Responders Lunch," Cupp said. "A gentleman named Marvin Exum, he had a big heart for law enforcement, fire and rescue and all of our first responders. We wanted to continue this in honor of him."
Paragould Fire Chief Kevin Lang knew Exum.
"Marvin had such a huge impact in the first responder community," Lang said. "He was deeply involved and very supportive and so to be able to come together like this is awesome."
Marvin Exum's son, Sergeant Micheal Exum, said the luncheon meant a lot.
"This event was very near and dear to my dad's heart," Exum said. "It's important to all of us because it represents and honors all of the first responders that serve our community. Police, fire, rescue, EMS and all of the volunteers are here. And it's very important for this group. They deserve it. They work hard each and every day tirelessly to serve the community. We're all servants here. That's what we're called to do, and it's an honor to be here."
Cupp said the lunch was an opportunity to show appreciation to all first responders.
"It's just a way to give back to the people that serve our community," Cupp said. "They give so much to us. They keep us safe and protected day in and day out. I think as a community it's important to let these folks know how much we care about them and how much we appreciate them."
Those in attendance said they appreciated all the community does to recognize them.
"Luckily in this area, and when I say this area I mean Greene County, Paragould, and Jonesboro area," Lang said. "First responders are held in such high regard and respected. You know, people really go to extreme lengths to do things for us, and this is just another example of that."
"It's just overwhelming," Sgt. Exum said. "The community support that we've been getting is great. A lot of things we've seen nationwide. We've seen a lot of citizens come out and support us, and that means everything to us. We're not here for the money, we're not here for the fame, but we really sure appreciate the support that our community has given us back."
Chief Lang said the life of a first responder can be a hard one, which is why events like the luncheon mean so much.
"These guys and girls are out in the middle of the night when they might want to be at home with their family," Lang said. "But it's one of the oaths you take. It's one of the things you say I will do to protect and serve the folks of the community you live in."
John 3:16 Ministries provided the food for everyone.
After lunch, they presented the first-ever Marvin Exum Memorial First Responders Award to his son, Michael.
"I'm just humbled," Sgt. Exum said. "It's humbled to be the recipient of the first award. I was proud of my dad. I'm proud of his legacy of being a servant. He believed in serving others. Put yourself aside and serve others and I'm very honored and humbled to receive the award this year."
Over 100 people attended.
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