First responders from all over the county flocked to the smell of burgers outside the Brunswick office of Coldwell Banker on Friday afternoon.

The real estate franchise hosted their annual “First Responders Appreciation Lunch” in support of the hard work that these men and women put forth every day to protect and serve their community.

All law enforcement, firemen, EMTs and Coast Guard personnel and their families that attended enjoyed a free meal courtesy of Coldwell Banker and the other sponsors of the event. A large number of non-first responders also showed up to show support their local agencies and pay for lunch, with the proceeds going to the Brunswick Police Explorers program.

Coldwell Banker agent Bill Robinson was one of the primary organizers of the event, and said that they try to give back to the community with events like these at least once a quarter. The last event they held for the Camp for the Blind raised $3,400, and the next one will be a pet adoption event in October.

For Robinson, the cause of first responders is exceedingly worthy.

“It takes someone truly special to run towards danger while everyone else is running away from it,” Robinson said. “That’s why we give back, so they can keep on giving to us.”

One sight stuck out among the crowd of uniforms, sunglasses and aprons: an eagle in a wheelchair.

Matt McDonald, known fondly by his patriotic alter ego “Citizen Eagle”, sported his eagle costume proudly as he led the event in the Pledge of Allegiance at noon.

McDonald suffered a stroke last year, but has made great strides in his recovery since then, volunteering his time to support local first responders. His wife Tracey works for Coldwell Banker, and he has made it out to the First Responders Appreciation Lunch for three years in a row. In fact, his costume was a gift from his wife’s company.

“They said ‘If you pick it out, we’ll buy it’, so I went with the best thing to represent America,” McDonald said.

As he continues to regain his abilities, McDonald wants to start a video blog where he’ll showcase the sights of the Golden Isles and talk about life after having a stroke. He hopes it will help motivate others who have suffered from strokes in their recovery.

“It will benefit me to see my own progress, and I want it to help others with their progress as well,” McDonald said.

Congressman Buddy Carter also stopped by the event to thank those members of his district who work tirelessly to protect the public. During his remarks, he spoke about two pieces of law-enforcement legislation that he had been involved with on Capitol Hill recently: the 9/11 first responders bill and the Thin Blue Line Act, which enhances punishments for individuals convicted of fatal attacks on law enforcement members.

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