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Firefighter wins national honor, shares prize with fellow firefighters, police officers

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DENVER -- A local firefighter got a big surprise. He won a nationwide contest—He was one of five people selected as a local hero.

The prize: Thanksgiving dinner with his family ... or in his case ... 'families.'

The scene where this unfolded Thursday was South Metro Fire Rescue Authority Station 38.

The crew was treated to a fully catered Thanksgiving Dinner.

"This is about honoring our heroes that have to work on Thanksgiving Day. We want to show our appreciation," said Christy Siders of La Brea Bakery, the company that sponsored the contest and the meal.

Eric Russell has been with South Metro for 25 years. His daughter, Karissa, nominated him for the national contest honoring heroes. "He`s my hero because he`s selfless and he`s giving and he does so much for everyone else. I wanted to show him how much I care," she said.

The spread at the fire station for his colleagues demonstrates just giving Eric Russell is ... turns out he was supposed to be on vacation Thursday. And the catered Thanksgiving meal was supposed to go to his house. But he donated it to his crew. He invited his family to the fire station along with the police officers who work next door.

"The guys that I`m with today, we spend a third of our lives together, so we do a lot of meals together, spend a lot of time together, so it`s great for me to be able to include them," Eric Russell said.

The contest judges said they chose Eric as a hero to honor because he keeps us safe and sacrifices time with his loved ones. "It's nice to know the children you raise look at you at that level. It's awesome," he said.

He appreciated the honor but said he doesn't think of himself as a hero. "It`s kinda' just what we do. I've never thought of it being a hero. It`s a job ... fortunately I`m doing a job that I love to do."

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