West Liberty to hold special event to honor first responders

WEST LIBERTY, Ohio (WDTN) – Six weeks after the West Liberty-Salem High School shooting, the community is giving thanks to first responders. A special event is planned for this weekend.

Parent Sean Merriman is taking his compassion a step further, showing his appreciation for the people who never hesitate to take action and step into harm’s way to protect the people who mean the most to us.

“To have the community come together as one,” Merriman said. “And let them know that we appreciate them. It’s very common. It’s pretty rare so I think they’d appreciate it.”

Seth Merriman is the dad to a third and fifth grader at West Liberty-Salem. Back on January 20th, he rushed to the school to be reunited with both of them. He’s thankful for not only the first-responders but teachers and staff who risked their lives to protect the students, including Assistant Principal Andy McGill who held down 17-year-old Ely Serna until Police arrived.

“To have somebody there that cares for your kids just as much as you do and wants to make sure that everyone else is protected as well,” Merriman said. “That’s a good feeling.”

For Merriman, it only made sense to do something to show just how thankful he and hundreds of other parents are for the brave men and women who stepped up that day.

“Hopefully the staff of the school and the first responders will appreciate the love,” Merriman said. “That we have to give.”

Merriman is hosting an all-day luncheon, providing food, entertainment and games to the community at the Campaign County Fairgrounds. When he first posted the idea in a local Facebook group, he said it immediately took off.

“The outreach that I have had from this is unreal,” Merriman said. “There’s so many people that are willing to reach out and help.”

With a population of just over 1,800 people, Merriman says many people first responders were helping that day weren’t strangers to them.

He says some officers he knows weren’t in uniform or on duty that day, but still rushed to the scene that day in their regular clothes.

“That’s what they’re calling is,” Merriman said. “When it comes to fight or flight they fight. It’s just in their DNA. They’re good people.”

Merriman says anyone who wants to come is invited. The Appreciation Luncheon is Saturday, March 11th from noon to 5 p.m. at the Champaign County Fairgrounds. He says they’re expected as many as 1,500 people to attend.

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