A hero’s welcome

Published 11:00 pm Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Written by Whitley Kilcrease

Firefighter returns home  after a heroes welcome

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Family, friends and coworkers honored fire fighter Curtiss Shaver two weeks ago as a “hometown hero” in a ceremony outside of Fire Station No. 1 in Troy. This past weekend, Shaver attended the race named in his honor at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway.

“It was wild,” Shaver said of the Brickyard 400 experience.

He was selected as part of Crown Royal’s sixth annual “Your Hero’s Name Here” contest and attended many events over the weekend, including a special ceremony Saturday night with the other four finalists.

“It was very special to me to get to meet the other finalists,” Shaver said. “They were all very deserving of this honor.”

Shaver had a couple of favorite events over the weekend, one of which was presenting the NASCAR trophy bearing his name to winner Jimmie Johnson in Victory Lane on Sunday.

“As a NASCAR fan, you really want to be a part of the excitement in the winner’s circle,” Shaver said. “It was an experience of a lifetime.”

He also enjoyed watching a recording of the award’s ceremony in Troy on the Speedway’s big screen before and during the races on Saturday and Sunday. The segment featured Shaver, as well as the Troy Fire Department, Mayor Jimmy Lunsford and others.

“I know I wasn’t televised very much on ESPN because of licensing rights and all, but there at the racetrack my name was everywhere,” Shaver said. “That really meant a lot because people don’t look at the name ‘Curtiss Shaver,’ they look at what I do. I represent firefighters, police officers, paramedics, first responders and so many others. I’m just like them. I’m doing my job.”

After arriving on Thursday, Shaver was honored with a heroes parade through the town of Speedway, Indiana, a nine-mile enclave of Indianapolis and home of the Indianapolis Motor Speedway.

However, Shaver said Sunday was “the big day” and was filled with events such as pre-race concerts with musical guests The Band Perry, The Mavericks, Justin Moore and Greg Bates. During this time, The Band Perry introduced Shaver and the other finalists to the crowd, as well as the NASCAR drivers. Shaver said he shook hands with every single driver in the race.

Shaver said he was given VIP treatment as he attended other events over the weekend, including a police escort to and from the racetrack, concerts and special viewing areas for races.

He attended sunrise interviews with local media on Turn 2 of the Speedway and a photo session with the Curtiss Shaver 400 trophy, as well as pre-race laps in the pace car and pit access before and during the race on Sunday.

Shaver was also able to watch Jimmie Johnson and his pit crew in action during the race and was even tossed a lug nut from one of the crew.

“It was pretty crazy,” Shaver said. “I can see how it could be overwhelming to have this much attention on you all the time. I’m not really used to that.”

Shaver said he was happy to be back in Troy and eager to go back to work serving the community with his fellow firefighters.

“It was a fun trip, but it’s always good to come home.”