On the weekend of September 10 and 11, 2016, the South Shore Line will offer free rides to first responders as a "thank you" for their service, and also to commemorate the 15-year anniversary of the 9/11 terrorist attacks.
“Everyone at the South Shore Line sincerely appreciates the hard work and sacrifices made by our first responders each and every day,” commented Nicole Barker, Director of Capital Investment and Implementation at the SSL. “By welcoming first responders to ride the train for free, we hope to convey our gratitude for all they have done to protect our communities.”
The "thank you" is a great sign of respect the South Shore Line has for first responders. First responders have an immense responsibility to protect and serve, and for many in that line of work, the desire to help others comes naturally.
"I really just fell into being a Fireman, I wanted to serve my community and do something other than "normal" everyday life things," explained Kevin Brown, Firefighter at the North Judson Fire Department. "My cousin was a firefighter for quite some time and many coworkers were also. When I moved the local department was struggling to find people so I thought I would go for it and instantly fell in love with it all."
Tom Steindler, a Valparaiso firefighter, has a similar story. "I followed my dad's footsteps," explained Steinder. "I was always interested and then the desire to join the department just hit me when I was 21."
There is a real selflessness in being a first responder, whether that means you are running into a burning building, addressing an altercation, or saving a life. For Michigan City Police Officer Marty Corley, it is all about making his community a better place.
"The love for my community keeps me going and knowing that this is my watch and my duty to make sure this community that raised me is able to raise more productive citizens and be a safe place for all to live," explained Corley. "The support system of family, friends, and coworkers make it possible for me to be the best that I can be."
First responders are naturally helpers, supporters, and born to solve problems in the midst of crisis. For Jennifer Isom, a Northwest Indiana EMT, she's is at her calmest when the situation is at its most stressful.
"I thrive in that type of stressful environment," said Isom. "Your instincts kick in, and you just do what you've do without thinking about how stressful, or scary, or messed up the situation may be. It's my job and this person needs me to do it to the best of my ability, right now. So I do it."
For more information on the First Responders Ride Free Weekend, click here.
Throughout the year, the SSL has welcomed various groups to take advantage of free round-trip transportation on designated days. In the near future, the train will be offering free transportation for military veterans in honor of Veterans Day. Keep up with the SSL on social media for the official announcement and details of this special promotion.
Additionally, the SSL offers reduced fares for seniors, active duty military personnel, commuting students, infants and passengers with disabilities on all trains year-round.