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Firefighter Daniel Lyon is honored at his hometown elementary school
Firefighter Daniel Lyon is honored at his hometown elementary school
Posted on 04/01/2016

“Every day, there are heroes who never meant to be.” These were the words ringing out from the Zeiger Elementary Chorus as they sang for former Zeiger Explorer Daniel Lyon. The firefighter who survived last summer’s deadly Okanogan Complex blaze was honored by the current staff and students in his home town of Puyallup where he attended Zeiger Elementary, Ballou Junior High, and Rogers High School.


The fundraising event included a walk-a-thon at his former elementary school.  On a bright and sunny St. Patrick’s Day Zeiger staff and students circled around the building to walk in support of Lyon. Along with Daniel were colleagues from West Pierce Firefighters, Milton Police officers, and even Smokey Bear. They were on hand to encourage the student body to keep walking and provided great inspiration as they playfully danced to the loud music.


“We wanted to provide Zeiger students with a meaningful way to reach out to others,” said Lyon’s former P.E. teacher Anne-Marie Peterson. “Daniel has grown up and become a part of our community, and we want to show students that we take care of others in our community.” Proceeds from the event will go to the Milton Police Foundation who will provide a check to help Daniel on his road to recovery.


The event was organized by Peterson and Daniel’s former sixth grade teacher, Gail Lovering. Earlier in the day, the famous firefighter spoke with Lovering’s students in their classroom. “He talked about setting goals and then modifying your goals when life’s circumstances create change in your life,” said Lovering. Lyon also spoke of the fire, and of the three firefighters lost. 


 Daniel Lyon and former teacher, Gail LoveringBefore their guest arrived in the classroom, students brainstormed adjectives to describe the man they had begun to study.  Words such as determined, courageous, adventurous, and heroic were boldly printed on the white board as a greeting. “For them to say I’m an inspiration is huge,” said Lyon. “I look at my dad and my elders as inspiration.”


Lyon said it felt good to return to his elementary school. He remembers planning to be a Veterinarian when he was in 6th grade. Later, he remembers wanting to be a farmer. Finally, he determined to be a firefighter or police officer.


Local police officers and firefighters were on hand to help provide a festive atmosphere and help celebrate Daniel Lyon. They filled the sidewalk giving “high fives” to each of the walkers.




One of Lyon’s greatest advocates was in attendance as well. Melissa Beard is a fellow firefighter and coordinator for the Washington State Council of Firefighters Burn Foundation. She has served as a family liaison for Daniel and his family during the many months following the fire. “If anybody can make something good come out of something so horrible, it’s Daniel,” said Beard. Her admiration for Lyon’s strength of character was evident. Beard looked over at Daniel’s parents standing nearby.  “They are a great family.” Beard credits his family for Daniel’s persistence and determination.





Daniel, his girlfriend Megan, friends, family, and former teachers all seemed to have a wonderful time walking in the sunshine and watching Zeiger students do the same. From the onset, the mood was set with the performance of the elementary singers. The words of their song hung in the air and a number of on-lookers had to dab their eyes while they thought about the words and the man they were there to honor.


All around, who can see who is strong and who might be?


Can we know who is brave, who will sacrifice to save?


All around, who can see what their fate is meant to be?


People give, people care. There are heroes everywhere.