BUCKEYE, Ariz. -- April 26 is Crossing Guard Appreciation Day to honor the men and women who get children to and from school safely each day and one Valley crossing guard has proven that these men and women are the unsung heroes in our community.
Willis Washington was honored today as AAA Arizona’s 2013 Crossing Guard of the Year after hundreds of nominations poured in for the man who has impacted so many at Steven R. Jasinski Elementary School in Buckeye.
“We received about 600 nominations in total and almost half of those were for Mr. Washington,” said Michelle Donati of AAA Arizona who said, “Of those received for Mr. Washington an overwhelming number were from kids – the pictures, the letters saying that Mr. Washington is just the best crossing guard in the world.”
The honor came as a surprise to Washington, who had tears in his eyes as he accepted his award in a gymnasium full of cheering students.
“I feel great today,” said Washington. “I enjoy working at the school and working with the kids...its been great. I’ve been here four years and I enjoy working here with the kids.”
The honor included a school-wide assembly where Washington was presented with a plaque and $100 Target gift card, courtesy of AAA Arizona. Washington is one of two crossing guards awarded in the Valley. Ray Ventura Reyes of Annie W. Kellond Elementary School in Tucson was also honored.
This is the 6th year AAA Arizona has honored crossing guards with the AAA Crossing Guard of the Year Award.
AAA participates in crossing guard training each year, produces training material for the crossing guards, and has donated more than a thousand safety vests to crossing guards in Maricopa and Pima County, according to a release by AAA Arizona.
The winners of this year’s award were selected after AAA traffic safety staff evaluated the nominations and observed the finalists performing their crossing guard duties.