WATCH VIDEO: Ron Hawotte
Presented by Caterpillar
After 20 years as a Peoria firefighter, Ron Hawotte Jr. has helped plenty of people on the clock. But it’s his off-duty activities that make him stand out. Once his shift as a Fire Station 11 rescue captain wraps up, he works overtime to help others.
Just ask his wife, Ellen. Throughout Ron’s career, she says, “there have been numerous instances that he has gone above and beyond the work expected of him.”
She can rattle off a list:
“He takes care of his elderly neighbors, doing anything from yard work to shoveling snow.”
With a little prodding, Ron tells the tale of a 78-year-old woman who had fallen in her home. He and other rescuers were called because her family couldn’t get inside. Afterward, he ran errands for her on his own time. And there’s the widow in his neighborhood; before her husband died, the man asked Ron to look after his wife. To this day, Ron says, he does odd jobs and cuts her grass.
He shrugs it off. Ellen continues:
“He treats people as if they were his own family members.”
OK, Ron concedes. When he’s at a restaurant and runs into a retired fireman, he can’t resist buying the fellow dinner. He probably does it because a civil servant seed runs through his own family, what with dad being a police officer, grandma a midwife, sister a nurse and daughter studying to be one.
He says it’s silly stuff. But Ellen ends with a whopper:
“If Ron sees an accident, and no rescue personnel are there, he will stop to see if aid is needed.”
Here, Ron can’t help but get a little animated. Recently, he was attending a wake for a World War II veteran — yet another resident he’d befriended on the job — when a 2-year-old inside the church went limp, stopped breathing and turned blue. Ron took the toddler from a frantic family member. He checked to see if the boy was choking and performed rescue breathing. After a few attempts the little one revived. He’d suffered a febrile seizure.
Saving a life at a funeral? Surely, Ron, that’s way beyond the call of duty.
“I wouldn’t do anything else for twice the money,” he smiles.