09/25/11 — Saturday's Community Day all about keeping county's kids safe

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Saturday's Community Day all about keeping county's kids safe

By Kenneth Fine
Published in News on September 25, 2011 1:50 AM

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Goldsboro firefighters Brandon Jones, left, and John Inlow check the car seat of Kaleigh Davis, 7 months, at Saturday's Safe Kids Community Day event in the Berkeley Mall parking lot. Organizers say they want to make sure children and adults are familiar and comfortable with county emergency responders.

His eyes wide open, Collin Henderson approached the helicopter on display less than 50 yards from the Berkeley Mall main entrance.

"Cool," the 7-year-old said, looking up at his father, Blake. "Can I go for a ride?"

The man on the receiving end of the little boy's question started laughing.

"I don't think so, buddy," Blake said, taking Collin's hand. "They can't start her up with this many people around."

The boy's reaction to the emergency helicopter was exactly what those who organized Saturday's "Community Day" event were going for.

They wanted children to be comfortable with what they might see if tragedy unfolded around them.

So when State Highway Patrol Deputy Commander Wellington Scott addressed the hundreds who turned out to take in food, fun and an education on law enforcement's role in keeping children safe, he was confident in declaring it "the most important event happening in North Carolina today."

And he reinforced the message he hoped each would take home with them and remember the next time an emergency occurs -- that keeping the next generation of children out of harm's way is the only way to ensure a bright future for the state and its residents.

Moments after Lillian Brady walked away from the tent where her face was transformed -- via a little paint -- into something "so pretty," she asked her mother, Janet, who the man was "shaking hands with Daddy."

"That's the sheriff," Janet replied, looking over at Carey Winders. "He's one of the men who keeps us safe."

But the event was about far more than providing an opportunity for Wayne County residents and their children to meet with those they would likely come across if they get into a wreck or their house is broken into.

In fact, it was designed to raise awareness about Safe Kids, an organization dedicated to ensuring all children have a properly installed car seat to protect them while they are on the road.

And if one member of the organization's account of what had been unfolding for hours at the Sears Auto Center was any indication of the success of "Community Day," those who planned the four-hour event walked away feeling pretty good about what they had accomplished.

"It's been crazy all day," the woman said, before rushing over to the next car in line, leaning in and helping to check the car seat inside. "The first car we got had five seats in it."