‘It truly means the world to us’: Firefighter sends back words of thanks after chalk drawings show up outside department

MADISON, Wis. – Despite hardships during the pandemic, community members are still finding ways to come together and show support for those who continue to serve others.

EMT and firefighter Jay Deppe is usually on the move, putting in 70 to 80 hours a week working for the Marshall EMS Department and volunteering for the Johnson Creek Fire & EMS Department.

“People that do this are really dedicated to this, and we enjoy it,” Deppe said.

Last week, a sight at his feet made him take pause.

“When I saw that, it was moving,” Deppe said. “I stopped for a second.”

Some may say sidewalk chalk drawings aren’t groundbreaking, but Deppe would disagree.

“I about teared up when I first saw it,” he said. “I tear up a little now talking about it.”

Several squares of sidewalk outside the Johnson Creek Fire & EMS Department are filled with chalk relaying a message of thanks for emergency responders.

One square says, “To the brave men and women, never give up!”

Deppe said community support is always there for emergency workers in our area, but lately it’s felt a bit more tangible.

“To see this, especially now, during these really troubling and challenging times, to see these three girls who signed their name to it and took the time to do this beautiful artwork, yeah, it really touched me,” he said.

Chalk fades, but Deppe said this memory won’t.

“This is really touching,” he said. “I wasn’t kidding. This is really moving.”

Deppe is still searching for the artists behind the message.

“I would have liked to shake their hand, but at least to thank them at a safe distance, just to meet them,” he said. “I know they’d be the type of people I think they are.”

He’s hoping to reflect that thank you back to them and the entire community for its support.

“It isn’t just a fleeting few words for us or sidewalk chalk or whatever it may be, it sticks with us,” Deppe said. “It truly means the world to us.”

For those wishing to thank their own local emergency responders, Deppe suggests sending videos and pictures of chalk drawings in their own driveway to be extra safe while social distancing.