LONG BEACH - Legendary coach Vince Lombardi once said, "Leaders aren't born, they are made. And they are made ... through hard work."
That conviction was proudly displayed by the Long Beach Fire Department on Friday, as it celebrated the hard work and leadership of several members who have recently been promoted within the department.
Long Beach Fire Chief Mike DuRee and Marine Safety Chief Randy Foster both described the hours of study and practice required for the promotions, noting such work comes in addition to the long hours and physically demanding work of lifeguards and firefighters.
"This is the culmination of that work, and we're all very, very proud of you," DuRee said.
As part of the ceremony, family members proudly pinned badges on the chests of their newly promoted loved ones.
That included Marine Safety Officer Trevor Warzynski; Rescue Boat Operator Cameron Abel; Fire Boat Operators Eric Yauchzee and Nick Kraus; and Battalion Chief Darrin Curry.
Among those on hand to celebrate the achievements was Ken Hamdorf, a former coach of water polo and swimming at Lakewood, Wilson and Westminster high schools and Golden West College. Hamdorf, known to most as Coach Ham, mentored many of the city's lifeguards and firefighters.
"I think it's important to recognize their dedication and their service, and I'm always happy to see people I had the chance to teach and work with go on to do great things," Hamdorf said.
Also honored were community members Bill and Nancy Nash and Mike Murchison for their work with the annual Spark of Love Toy Drive.
And residents Robert Cherney, Michael Johnson and Renee Litzinger were lauded for their quick action Nov. 9, when an apartment fire broke out in the 3000 block of East Third Street and the group ran door-to-door, alerting neighbors to get out and using a garden hose to keep the flames at bay until fire crews arrived.