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It's official: crossing guard a favourite

Receives award at Beaumont School

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School crossing guard George Drad.

RUTH BONNEVILLE / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS Enlarge Image

School crossing guard George Drad. Photo Store

He keeps children safe, and now he's being recognized for it.

George Drad was honoured Thursday as one of Canada's favourite crossing guards.

Beaumont School in Charleswood held a ceremony in Drad's honour to celebrate his being named one of four favourite patrols in the nation.

Drad's dedication to the children's safety stems, in part, from a personal tragedy -- his 11-year-old son died after being hit by a car during a school field trip in 1982.

'From that tragic story this wonderful thing happened' -- Beaumont principal Doug Jonasson

"From that tragic story, this wonderful thing happened," said Beaumont principal Doug Jonasson.

"He's always smiling, waving, crossing kids, looking out for kids, learning their names. He just goes above and beyond and that's had a positive impact on the community," said Jonasson.

"I kind of find it amazing that he has been there for 15 years and makes it safe for everyone to cross," said Grade 6 patrol Erica Moore after the assembly. "That's why I want to be a patrol. I like to make sure people are safe and it's fun."

Erica and Grade 5 patrol Donovan Collier agreed they feel safer having Drad around their school. "He inspired some of us to be a patrol, to help kids be safe," said Donovan.

Drad was touched when he found out he was nominated as a "Favourite Crossing Guard" by school secretary Linda Whitehead and educational assistant Chris Dyer.

"When Ms. Whitehead came to talk to me and say they were going to nominate me for an award, I thought maybe it would be for some Timbits and some juice with the patrols from here, but nothing else," said Drad.

The contest was put on by FedEx Express Canada and Parachute -- a charity dedicated to preventing injuries and saving lives.

"This is incredible, this is really incredible," said Drad. "Any time we can get a message out to the public that these are extremely essential jobs that the children do and to please respect them -- please respect all crosswalks and all pedestrian corridors. They're extremely important."

Drad began patrolling outside Beaumont every morning and afternoon after he retired.

His wife, Peggy, was also a crossing guard for many years before she died last year.

MP Steven Fletcher (Charleswood-St. James-Assiniboia-Headingley) presented Drad with a certificate congratulating him on behalf of the federal government.

Fletcher also gave Drad a bobblehead of his likeness as a more personal gift.

The MP emphasized the importance of safety to the audience made up predominantly of children. "At the end of the day, we want you all to arrive safely, to be very well educated, make lots of money and pay the appropriate amount of tax," joked Fletcher.

jessica.botelho-urbanski@freepress.mb.ca

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition December 20, 2013 B4

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