For the 21st year, the Bethany-Fenwick Chamber of Commerce has honored lifeguards from the area’s seven beach patrols for their outstanding service to their patrols and to the community at large.
“Every year, we ask the patrol captains of each unit to select one outstanding lifeguard who has demonstrated acts of bravery, gone over and above the duty, and or demonstrated leadership in some way during the summer season,” said Kristie Maravalli, the Chamber’s executive director.
Each year the Chamber asks the beach patrol captains to choose their patrol’s Lifeguard of the Year; however, many times, the patrols vote on the honor instead.
Todd Hickman, past president of the Chamber, thanked the patrols for their continued service to the Quiet Resorts’ beaches during the annual awards event held last week.
“I think a lot of folks take for granted, or may not realize what the beach patrols do for our community,” Hickman said, adding that Bethany Beach Patrol Capt. Joe Donnelly had given him some statistics regarding the number of saves the patrols do.
“Every year, they rescue 400 people on average from the surf, and, on average, 40 to 50 medical emergencies. I think a lot of times people don’t have a full appreciation for the lifesaving efforts that are out there and how much these folks — you all — mean to the community.”
Donnelly address attendees at the ceremony, stating that there are various kinds of guards who bring their own unique approach to the job.
“You have some that are the outgoing, vocal leader. You have some who are a little more the laidback, lead-by-example type. You have some that are strict, by-the-book, and some that do their job by instinct. But there’s one thing that all of those lifeguards of the year have: that’s the idea of excellence.”
The 2014 Lifeguard of the Year for the Bethany Beach Patrol was Jake Nalls, who has been with the patrol for five years.
“His performance has been nothing but excellent — excellent in how he’s approached his job. Excellent in the skill he brings to his duties on a daily basis, and certainly excellence in the impact that he has had on his fellow guards. That, in a nutshell, describes Jake and all that he’s done for us in this beach patrol,” said Donnelly.
“He shared with young guards that, when you leave, when your time is up, leave the beach patrol better than you found it. That example has not only been a huge advantage to teaching our new guards but to bringing all of our guards to a higher level of standard, with that attitude… I know he’s going to be successful.”
North Bethany Beach Patrol Capt. Spencer Noel presented the award to his cousin, Noel Temple.
“He’s been on the patrol for just two years now, but if you saw him on the beach, you’d think he’d been doing it for 10 years or his whole life,” Noel said. “He’s really good at it, picked up everything really quickly.”
Noel said that Temple, who will be entering his senior year at Salisbury University this fall, was promoted to crew chief this year and is always willing to help with whatever may be needed.
“He has all the qualities you could want in a good lifeguard. He’s really hard-working… Whatever it is, he always does his best. He’s really reliable, and I can always count on him to make the right decision when he needs to. He always has a positive attitude, always smiling, always wants to work.”
“I’d like to thank everybody who made this possible. It’s a great honor. I can’t wait to get back out here next year,” added Temple.
Capt. Dave Griffith of the Sea Colony Beach Patrol recognized guard Jiri Lukasek, who has been with the patrol for six years.
“He started out at the pools. A year and a half after that, he went out to the beach. He had a rough go at it. The first full year, he had to stop, because he had these massive blisters on his feet. The year after that, he knocked his teeth out. The year after that, he had a spinal injury. Then, this year, he broke his nose,” noted Griffith. “He did an outstanding job — this year he really shined.”
Jon Binkley was selected at Middlesex Beach Patrol’s Lifeguard of the year by Capt. Justin Voorheis.
“He really stepped up this summer — covered many shifts. It was a really rough summer for staffing. He worked numerous days on his days off,” said Voorheis of Binkley, who will be matriculating to the University of Maryland this fall. “It’s been great watching him develop over the years, especially this summer.”
South Bethany Beach Patrol Capt. Ryan Dacey presented the award to veteran guard Josh Chandlee.
“Josh started on our beach patrol about 10 years ago. He left to pursue a career and found his way back to South Bethany this summer, and we couldn’t be more stoked to have him. He slid right into the lieutenant position and has done an amazing job for us,” said Dancey. “He’s a great role model for our younger guards and does a great job day in and day out. He’s very deserving of this award.”
Delaware Seashore State Park guard Dan Beebe was recognized for his service to the beach patrol.
“I would describe Dan as a service-type lifeguard. He will do anything I ask of him, to the best of his ability without question, and when he’s done, he’ll come back and ask for more,” said Capt. Bryan John, adding that Beebe works out more than anyone on the patrol.
He noted that he also has an entrepreneurial streak. “He does personal fitness training, manages a bait-and-tackle shop and even sells Christmas trees. Dan is a worker in the true sense of the word. That’s kind of a rare quality these days.”
Beebe said he enjoys the job and that every day brings something different.
“I remember, during Rookie Week, Chris told me, ‘Every year you’ll see something different.’ I remember one year I hopped into the ranger vehicle and sped down to respond to a spinal injury at 3R’s, to last year, when we had a boat die and we had to hold it still in the waves for about three hours until the towboat came,” he recalled. “It’s been an interesting career, and I’ve enjoyed it.”
Fenwick Island Beach Patrol Capt. Tim Ferry said that his patrol’s Lifeguard of the Year is chosen by their peers. This year, the patrol recognized Craig Chatterton.
“Usually, what wins them over is they see somebody that does go that extra mile, somebody that excels in all aspects, brings their A-game every day, sets an example on the stand — not only with veteran guards but with also with rookie guards.
“In that aspect, Craig has not only excelled but overachieved in a lot of those areas,” said Ferry. He added that Chatterton has been previously recognized for his efforts on the patrol, receiving Rookie of the Year three years ago. “That type of attitude and skill, and passion for the job — Craig brings that to the table to us all the time.”
Chatterton said that it wasn’t until recently that he was struck with the significance of sitting in the chair.
“Yesterday, we had a pretty big surf day and I had a little girl come up to me and she was like, ‘Thank you so much for saving my life.’ That’s when it really hit me. Three years, that never happened to me. It really hit home. I thank all the guards and Lifeguards of the Year. Just keep doing your job — you do it really well.”
All the recipients received a personalized trophy provided by Sea Shell City, along with gift certificates donated by Delmarva Board Sports. They also received a set of customized cornhole boards in their patrol colors, compliments of Lizzy’s.
In attendance to recognize and congratulate the guards for their hard work and dedication were state Sen. Gerald Hocker and Rep. Ron Gray. Additionally, the Chamber gave $500 each to the Towns of South Bethany, Bethany Beach and Fenwick Island, for their support in helping to promote safe beach tourism beyond the summer season.
“We appreciate the Towns’ commitment in funding lifeguard service in the month of September,” said Maravalli.
Ferry said that, although each patrol may be different, all share the same core goal.
“Each beach is different and unique and have their own things, but we all have the same goal — to provide the safest, best beach and water environment that we can to all visitors to our towns.”