A crowd of more than 100 gathered early Wednesday morning at for annual "Breakfast on the Bridge" and presentation of the "Build No Fences Award."
The 26th annual breakfast has become nearly synonymous with the beginning of a new school year and the start of the fall season for school and town admininstrators, elected officials, counselors, social workers, and other professionals who gather together to honor those who are committed to supporting West Hartford's children.
This year, Captain John Brice, who joined the department in 1993 and is currently in charge of the Berkshire Road firehouse, was honored with the Build No Fences Award.
The award was presented by the Bridge's Director of Community Services Judy Bierly, "to recognize his good will and generosity in support of kids."
Bierly read aloud some of the words of praise submitted by those who have worked with Brice.
"John is professional and approachable, and one of the best ambassadors of what we do," commented Interim Fire Chief Gary Allyn.
Battalion Chief Richard Winn said it was "clear from the start that [Brice] was an excellent addition to our department ... He's a great leader."
Brice is currently enrolled in the executive program at the Connecticut Fire Academy. He received the Kiwanis Club's 2010 Stars for Kids award. This year Brice coordinated the first aid tent at Celebrate West Hartford. He has also been involved with Relay for Life and the West Hartford Food Pantry.
Each year Brice helps deliver t-shirts to fifth graders all over town as part of The Bridge Family Center's "," speaking with them and delivering his own reinforcement of the organization's anti-drug message.
Brice, who was described by many as being humble and often working in the background, said after the breakfast, "It's pretty amazing to be chosen for this big honor if you consider this room full of heavy hitters."
"I'm just a vehicle for the support of the firefighter's union and the administration. This award is really reflective of this support," he said.
During the breakfast, The Bridge Family Center Executive Director Margaret Hann also accepted a donation of $1,837.33 on behalf of from Wendy Kopp, Director of Marketing. Over the past nine years, Panera’s donations of food, funds collected from customers, and financial contributions total $66,495.66, Hann said.