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First responders recognized at Jackets game

by Kristyn Repke / Columbus Blue Jackets

First responders played a crucial role in a game between the Blue Jackets and Dallas Stars earlier this week, but Thursday night at Nationwide Arena, there was a celebration of first responders who save peoples' lives on a daily basis in central Ohio during the team's game against the San Jose Sharks.

For Blue Jackets forwards Nathan Horton and Cam Atkinson, First Responders Night had a little extra meaning.

Both players have family members who are first responders: Atkinson has two brothers, Scott and Brett, who are volunteer firemen, and Horton's father Bryan is a police officer back home in Ontario.

Atkinson and Horton admire their family members' courage and the risks they take daily in order to save the lives of others.

"What impresses me most about them becoming volunteer firefighters is that it is one of the most dangerous jobs you can have," said Atkinson. "They're saving lives and that's what is what is most important and is what they're the most proud of."

Horton even purchased 1,000 tickets that were distributed to local police officers, firefighters and EMTs. Several of the recipients of the tickets were able to see their first-ever Blue Jackets and NHL game, an experience they will never forget but just a small way to say "thank you" for the heroic work they do each day.

“It takes a special kind of person to serve and protect us the way these men and women do every day,” said Horton. “I’m proud of my dad and the work he has done his whole life and I’m very happy to be able to give some of our local first responders a night out with their families.”

Specific groups recognized during the game included the Franklin Co. sheriff's office pipes and drums corps, which played throughout the concourse before puck drop. The Whitehall Division of Police and Division of Fire presented the colors on the ice for the national anthem.

All active and retired first responders were recognized during the first period to a roar of applause from the crowd. First responders also participated in all in-game contests and were recognized on the Dispatch Media Center.
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