COLUMBIA FALLS - He's been awarded firefighter of the year for his dedication to his small community — and for training his fellow EMTs to be more efficient in their jobs.
Ron LaTray — our Unsung Hero — shows that it just takes one person to make a difference in their community.
“Ron is more of a guy who's kind of behind the scenes. He does a lot that people don't realize he does they just know that it's done. He's very passionate about what he does," said volunteer EMT Brandy LaTray.
Ron LaTray has been a firefighter with the Bad Rock Volunteer Fire Department for almost seven years, and an EMT for them for three years.
“An opportunity walked through the door and asked me to join so I thought well, I'll try and it became a passion and that's what's nice about volunteering is the passion. It's not something where you have to get up and do it. It's a passion to go help people in their worst possible time," Ron said.
Not only is Ron a volunteer firefighter, but he also works a full-time management position at the Lodge at Whitefish Lake. And for the last 18 years, he's coached football including six years for Columbia Falls High School. But his most important job is being a father and family man.
“And unfortunately, your family sacrifices a little bit as well. So we have to tell our kids, no, you're part of the team as well. So they have their fire Baddrock Firefighter shirts and feel like they're part of the team because without them staying at home and holding down the house then we wouldn't be able to go," said Ron.
In his spare time, Ron writes grants to help get the fire department the equipment they need. He was able to obtain money to get new AEDs and to outfit ten firefighters in full uniform.
“There's a need for different things that you know, Even though it's a fire department, businesses don't really just, oh, we'll give you this equipment, and there was a need for equipment," said Ron.
Although it can get tricky to balance everything Ron has going on, he loves firefighting and helping his community.
“We come in the time of people's worsts that are their worst day possible, and we show up so I think just having the peace of mind that someone will be there if anything does go wrong in their life," said Ron.
KPAX and Whitefish Credit Union continue to highlight unsung heroes in Western Montana. Each week we will spotlight someone who made a difference in our communities and also award them VIP ticket's to this summer's Under the Big Sky Festival in Whitefish.