SULLIVAN, Ill. (WAND) — A passion for firefighting burns deep inside Larry Edwards.
"It's a very rewarding job — stressful job at times — but very rewarding," he said. "I don't know if there's anything else I would want to do besides this."
He's been with the Sullivan Fire Protection District for 21 years, working his way up to assistant chief. He's seen almost every kind of crisis imaginable.
But one particular fire from this past Christmas is fresh in his mind.
"We were trying to get their personal belongings out as much as we could," Edwards said.
Linda Evans woke up Christmas night to her house on fire. But as she and her family got out of the house, her mind went to what was still inside.
"We kept worrying about little things and they came to us and said 'what do you need in there?'" Evans said. "Fire up above them and everything, they'd bring something else out."
The home was torched. But many of the family's most precious belongings still made it out.
"The firemen kept running in [the detached garage] dropping stuff off," Evans said. "They really went above and beyond."
Like all firefighters, Edwards insists these acts of kindness are all in a day's work. But it's those acts of kindness that truly embody the spirit of central Illinois.
"When the family comes up and tells you 'thank you' or the next day...[they give] you a hug...sometimes that's enough to keep you going," he said.
If there's someone you would like to nominate for the Spirit of Central Illinois, email Deron Molen (email@example.com) or click here.