Behavior to aspire to
Two praiseworthy things happened in Wilton last week that deserve a shout-out. Despite the fact that one took place at a sporting event and another at a celebration, no one won anything but admiration.
The first event was last Tuesday, Oct. 15, at the FCIAC boys cross-country championship meet at Waveny Park in New Canaan. Wilton High School junior Davis Cote was running his race when he saw a competitor — Danbury High School senior Aidan Byrne — struggling and then collapsing right next to him. Instead of carrying on, Davis stopped, turned around, picked Aidan up and then helped him finish the last 100 meters to cross the finish line. According to the story in The Bulletin’s sports section, Davis lost about 10 places for his actions.
When asked about it, Davis said he didn’t pause to think, calling it “an in-the-moment thing.” That’s what makes it so refreshing. There was no weighing of pros and cons. He just did it.
Many young people do wonderful things to help their fellow humans — including right here in Wilton — you can read about them in these pages almost every week. But in an age where cheating is so widespread to gain an edge, demonstrating compassion in a competitive sport is something to be recognized.
Davis called Aidan “a great athlete and runner” and said “everybody deserves to finish the race.”
Afterwards, Davis went over to the Danbury team to check on Aidan, and was greeted with handshakes and thanks. It’s a moment several young men will remember, probably for a long time.
The second event took place here in Wilton, at fire headquarters on Oct. 16, when T.G. Rawlins, one of the founders of the Community Emergency Response Team, was given a celebratory send-off after 15 years of service. Rawlins, newly retired, is sailing south — literally — with his wife Tosha.
Rawlins is not one to blow his own horn, and despite being repeatedly asked about highlights of his service with CERT, he would only say how vital the organization is to Wilton and how dedicated its members are.
But an article published in The Bulletin on March 25, 2010, illustrates what fellow CERT member Jack Majesky meant when he said without Rawlins, “we’d be nothing.”
That article recounted how Rawlins was honored by the American Red Cross as one of its 2010 Heroes of Lower Fairfield County. The Red Cross said he was recognized for dedicating “hundreds of hours acquiring grant money, coordinating internal functions, and delivery of preparedness training and response to assist Wilton Fire and Police emergency personnel. His contribution to town preparedness and operational plans for mass vaccinations clinics and actual mass vaccination for the H1N1 flu pandemic of 2009 is unsurpassed.”
Rawlins, who was nominated for the award by former Police Chief Michael Lombardo and former Fire Chief Paul Milositz, said he was “shocked, honored and humbled.” As one might expect, Rawlins spent the rest of the article talking about the CERT team.
After that high point, Rawlins spent nine more years serving the community — as a volunteer — in the worst of conditions — at traffic accidents, during storms, at shelters — basically helping people in crisis. He did not do this alone. He had the support of dozens of like-minded citizens who were his fellow teammates.
And they had the support of the town. It is not every town that embraces a Community Emergency Response Team. It is to the credit of past and present town and emergency services officials that they view CERT as a valuable part of Wilton’s emergency response.