Coordinator of San Angelo Safe Kids Receives Texas EMS Citizen of the Year
SAN ANGELO, TX – Yesterday morning, Catie Wiedenhofer stood with friends and colleagues in a conference room at the San Angelo Community Medical Center. They laughed, joked, but more importantly, they waited for the moment to honor the San Angelo Safe Kids Coordinator locally for receiving the Texas EMS Citizen of the year.
On November 22, Catie, along with a few colleagues, made her way to Dallas for a ceremony that honored her with an award before a crowd of more than 2,000 EMS conference attendees, and an emotional bagpipe ceremony for fallen firefighters. Twelve additional awards were presented during the conference, said Sheryl Pfluger, director of Marketing & Business Development at SACMC.
Catie was honored for her “outstanding work in child safety and injury prevention in a 14-county area.
“There is no one more dedicated to child safety and injury prevention than Catie,” said Janet Charlesworth, operations manager of Community Health Club and author of the award application. “I have never met anyone more sincere or genuinely passionate about child safety.”
Above: Catie Widenhofer wins Texas EMS of the Year Award (Photo provided by SACMC)
According to SACMC, Catie travels more than 13,000 miles each year to conduct child safety and injury prevention events for West Texas communities and schools.
“She delivers many safety devices to communities, including bicycle helmets, life jackets, booster seats, car seats and smoke alarms,” said SACMC. “She works closely with local hospitals, physicians, schools and EMS personnel to offer exceptional child safety education.”
In addition to providing safety programs to the counties, Catie is one of the primary founders of radKIDs in San Angelo and the surrounding area. radKIDs is “a personal empowerment” and a bullying prevention program. It is nationally recognized for teaching children to protect themselves from violence and harm.
“Catie is a certified national instructor for radKIDs, R.A.D Women and R.A.D Men,” said SACMC.
At the local ceremony yesterday, Jeremy Riney, CEO of SAMC, mentioned staff wanted to have its own celebration to honor Catie.
“This is a very well-deserved honor for Catie,” he said.
Above: Catie Wiedenhofer and Danny Updike (LIVE! Photo/John Basquez)
Riney said Catie does such a great job in the community and the whole region when it comes to Safe Kids San Angelo, and radKIDS.
“She just spreads so much good across so many families,” he stated. “We want to honor her today.”
Previously, he said, “Catie is most deserving of this award. We sincerely appreciate her enormous work in spreading safety awareness so that injuries and fatalities can be prevented among our most precious resource.”
Danny Updike, Concho Valley Regional Advisory Council Trauma Service, Area K executive director, said he also wanted to do something local for Catie. He said everything she does, from car seat safety, bicycle helmets, life jackets, and radKIDS, has tremendous impact.
“Everything you do, we just want you to know how proud we are, and how much it means to us to be associated with you, so thank you,” he said.
Updike also said previously that “Catie visits all 14 counties in TSA-K. She works hand-in-hand with EMS, hospitals and schools in the county. She is a valuable asset helping keep kids safe in the region. We could not do without her.”
Catie, with tears in her eyes, thanked him when he handed her a clear plaque.
Riney then asked Charlesworth to say a few words. She said she originally nominated Catie for a different award she thought her colleague was well-deserving of, but learned that her nomination turned into something more.
Charlesworth thought maybe someone else had nominated her, but the Texas EMS Association confirmed it was her nomination that awarded the honor to Catie.
“It was a wonderful presentation,” Charlesworth said about the ceremony in Dallas.
Sheryl Pfluger said what made the celebration in Dallas special is there were over 2,000 people at the luncheon, and all the EMS people were made of the same type of cloth. They were all humble in performing a calling they had in life.
“To have an honor like that, from [those people who are] giving their lives every day, and honoring Catie, that meant a lot,” she said.
Catie said working with car seats, Safe Kids, and families in the West Texas has been a blessing. She said people in West Texas, in rural areas, have to depend on one another.
“And we have to partner because our children are our most precious resource we have, and I totally enjoy our county, our first responders, and I would encourage you, the next time you see a first responder, [to] say thank you,” she told the crowded conference room. “Because, out here in West Texas, you’re not going to get that ambulance in 15 minutes; and when you’re traveling in West Texas, those folks are truly the angels, so please say thank you to those first responders. Without them, our families would be at risk.”
After the celebration, Catie told media that getting this honor is about partnership and collaboration in West Texas, and standing behind our first responders.
“Being recognized for this is very humbling because our first responders in West Texas are our true angels, and I’m just standing behind working with them to help prevent needless deaths,” she said.
When she first heard about the award, she was shocked and thought it a prank, but when she learned it was real, she thought it a great honor; however, it’s really the first responders who are the angels, she said.
She added that there were over 2,000 grown-ups in the room at the award ceremony, and said she’s not used to that. She’s used to having kids in the room running around, so it was a very humbling experience.
“I was very nervous,” she said.
To be in a room with so many people who respond to tragedy, words couldn’t even put together how indebted she is to them, Catie said.
Catie finalized that this honor gives a “leg up for children” in West Texas.
“It’s an opening of the door for more work to be done,” she said.
Catie has been with Safe Kids since 1995, and she said it’s a calling for her.
“I love what I do, so I’m going to be here until divine intervention says I must go somewhere else,” she said.