Five deserving moms from Cy-Fair Fire Department honored with $1,000 shopping

When Debra Vasquez steps off Engine 11 at a fire scene, the 5-foot-1-inch driver and operator is capable of doing anything on the truck her fellow firefighters can do. The grandmother of four grandchildren and four kids of her own has earned the respect of her colleagues and was surprised on Tuesday, May 4, when she had been nominated to receive a special recognition.

“We received a very kind email that we had been nominated to come out there and what I thought was going to be an ‘attaboy’ kind of pat on the back,” she said.

Boy was she ever surprised!

Vasquez and four other deserving mothers in the Cy-Fair Fire Department were surprised when they learned that Academy Sports+Outdoors awarded them with a $1,000 shopping spree.

“I think I was probably more excited than my kids,” she said.

“I wasn’t expecting any type of monetary recognition. That was a very big surprise for me,” she said.

It was an unexpected, early gift for Mother’s Day for the five moms in the Cy-Fair Fire Department who were each honored with a $1,000 shopping spree courtesy of the Fairfield Academy Sports+Outdoors on 28616 U.S. 290 in Cypress.

The moms, and their families, couldn’t keep from smiling from ear to ear as they grabbed shopping carts and explored the retail store looking for deals for themselves and their families, of course.

When it came time for Vasquez to go and spend her money, she hesitated a little bit.

“As a mom you’re busy all the time. You always put your children first, your family first, the community first, in the line of service that way. It was hard for me to wrap my mind around what I wanted for myself,” the mom said.

She’s been with the department since April 2014 as both a firefighter and working in administration. After seven years, she looked back and said it’s all been a blessing.

“I’ve always wanted to be a firefighter,” she said.

She walked into one of the fire departments closest to her with an application in hand.

“I asked them what it took and here I am,” she said.

They happened to be training that day and she joined in with the other firefighters. Since then, she has finished the firefighter academy and continues to serve in the department.

She wanted to buy tennis shoes for her granddaughter, but she refused and told her grandmom the money was for her.

“That was tough,” she said. “Luckily I wasn’t pressured to spend it all at once or I would have been there all day,” she smiled.

She did buy herself a new arctic cooler that she had been eyeing for a while, a thermos, and a couple of workout outfits. She still has a balance she’ll spend later.

“It was an awesome experience,” she said. She has four grown children — three sons, two of them in the military, and one daughter — and four grandchildren.

“I’ll save the firefighting for the younger bunch. I’m the driver on the truck. I’ll do anything on that truck, but most of the time they have me driving,” she said.

Tyler Sumrall, senior public relations specialist with Academy, said this was the continuation of a great partnership.

“We’ve always been great partners with the Cy-Fair Fire Department. We thought it would be a great idea to pair the First Responder aspect who are mothers and give back to them,” Sumrall said.

While the gifts were for the moms, in selfless fashion, they also shopped for their kids and family members.

“It was a great time all around,” Sumrall said.

One mom, Jacqueline Salazar, a volunteer firefighter from Station 5, was unavailable for the shopping spree because she was working her shift at the time, but has already received her $1,000 gift card.

Finding the five deserving women was no problem.

“Some of them were for their heroic action they took working with the public, and they are already heroes in their homes,” he said.

Tuesday was chosen for its significance in celebration of International Firefighter’s Day.

“This was a surprise to all of us,” said Capt. Daniel Arizpe, PIO for Cy-Fair Fire Department.

The captain said Academy helped the department out last year with a generous donation of more than 600 Croc shoes.

“They donated Croc…shoes to our firefighters and medics to use at the station during the beginning of the pandemic,” he said.

That allowed them to leave their boots outside and not get them contaminated and potentially take the coronavirus back into their personal homes.

“They also donated $10,000 in gift cards that we were able to give to all our employees for Christmas and end of year gifts,” Arizpe said.

The entire department is comprised of more than 550 personnel made up of volunteers, part-time and full-time, fire, EMS, and admin employees which allowed everyone to get a pair of their own.

Arizpe said the five women selected stood out amongst their peers for their service and heroic work for the department and public.

There were more women serving in the EMS than on the fire side, so they picked three from the EMS department and two volunteer fire fighters.

According to Arizpe, some of the mothers are single and raising a family on their own.

“They’re raising their kids and working as a first responder as a mom,” he said.

They picked who came to mind first as deserving.

“One of them, an EMT, was involved in a patient rescue where two were dragged from a house fire in January. She helped revive one of the patients in the ambulance and save their life,” Arizpe said.

“This was a perfect time to recognize her,” he said. “On the volunteer side, they ride the trucks, and ride shifts like everybody else except they don’t get paid, and they don’t receive any benefits,” he said.

They do receive a meal stipend.

“Any way we can show our thanks to the volunteers who give of their time to help the community, we’re happy to do that,” he said.

“Moms are our heroes, but responder Moms are superheroes. They give so much of themselves to others and make a positive impact on our community every single day. We appreciate the generosity and support from Academy in recognizing these deserving Mothers from the Cy-Fair Fire Department,” Arizpe concluded.

To further thank frontline heroes, Sumrall said Academy would be offering 10 percent off entire purchases for first responders, active military and veterans through July 5.

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