On Aug. 26, 2002, Tracy Moore's life changed forever. She became the widow of a lineman who worked for Lakeland Electric in Lakeland, Florida. Marc Moore was killed in the line of duty. At the time, their two boys were 16-months-old and 4-years-old. While the years following her husband's death have been full of grief, Moore said she has also been incredibly blessed. Through the Highline Hero Foundation, Moore has not only been able to honor and recognize all lineworkers, but to promote the importance of safety. Moore refers to her journey following her husband's death as her ministry of safety.
Tell us about your ministry of safety.
One of the hardest parts of this journey has been helping my two boys understand that their daddy was never coming home. I had an overwhelming desire to make sure that they understood the trade that took Marc's life and I wanted them to know that he meant so much to me and many others.
One day, many years after the accident, I was going through some items from Marc's funeral and I found a card from our city attorney. The last line of the card read, "If I can ever do anything for you please let me know." I immediately thought that I needed to call this gentleman; I wanted the City of Lakeland to honor August 26 as Lineman Appreciation Day annually. I felt this day of recognition would be an awesome way to honor Marc's life and the trade as a whole. With that designation, my boys will forever know it represents their daddy's life lost.
I called the Lakeland city attorney and shared my heart with him and without hesitation he agreed to help me make it happen. Within months, the City Commission granted me Lineman Appreciation Day on August 26, annually in Lakeland. Each year on or around August 26, I celebrate our Lakeland linemen and three neighboring utilities through a catered luncheon sponsored through Highline Heroes.
When I held the first luncheon in 2011, Lakeland Electric invited Barry Moline from the Florida Municipal Electric Association to attend the celebration and to meet with me concerning my future goals with linemen appreciation. When I met Barry, he asked me what my goals were and I said that I really wanted to take this to the state level and then to the national level. By the following August, 2012, we had gotten the state designation passed. Florida now celebrates our linemen annually on August 26.
While at the capitol for the presentation of Florida's Lineworker Appreciation Day, a gentleman from one of our neighboring utilities asked me if I would consider sharing my story at their safety meeting. At first I declined, thinking I just can't speak in front of anyone like that. Within thirty minutes, I felt that I had given him the wrong answer. I felt the Lord saying "Tracy — if something happens to one of his linemen, you will forever wonder if your story could have changed his fate that particular day." Needless to say, I immediately set out to locate that gentleman and tell him I would be happy to share my heart and story with his group. That meeting was the first of many. I feel like God has taken my tragedy and turned it into a ministry of safety.
How can public power utilities turn your advice into a culture of safety within their organizations?
I feel that sharing my heart and story with lineworkers across our nation is very important and impactful. It gives each audience an entirely different perspective on why their safety is so important. It helps them understand that every decision they make — good or bad — affects those who love them and wait for them to return home.
My presentation also brings awareness that it really can happen to you. Chances aren't worth taking and sometimes, it's the last chance you take. During these presentations, I share the journey I walked as a sister to a lineman that was electrocuted and thankfully survived and the wife of a lineman that unfortunately was a fatality.
Although it's been almost 15 years since Marc's death, his absence still affects us daily. My boys are 19 and almost 16 now and they still long to know and share life with their dad. Safety begins and ends with each individual and I conclude each meeting with these thoughts: Your safety rules are written because of someone's life or limb. You work in one of the most dangerous professions in our nation, chances can't be taken. Nothing and no one is worth compromising your safety. You aren't just a Highline Hero, you're someone's everything.
How can other public power towns get recognition for their heroes?
I encourage all utilities to recognize their lineworkers and I am happy to help in any way. It is important to recognize our nation's lineworkers; they are the true first, first responder. Many times whether it's an auto accident, structural fire, or natural disaster, our lineworkers must arrive to make the area safe for our other first responders to do their jobs safely. Lineworkers do not get enough recognition. Although they are usually a tough group, they are also very humble. I've even had them say that they aren't heroes, they're just people doing their jobs. But I strongly disagree. This recognition is well deserved. Appreciation affects moral which in turn affects safety and that affect lives.
Your foundation also helps all lineworker families, no matter what the circumstances. How has your foundation helped another lineworker family most recently?
The most recent need has unfortunately been reaching out to families who have lost linemen. Most importantly, I try to be there for emotional support, but it goes beyond that. Anytime a lineworker is injured or killed, my heart breaks, but it's especially personal to me when there are children left behind. I try to put together something special for the children and send each family member a memorial shirt. For example the shirt for the wife or widow reads "My Highline Hero, My Husband, My Guardian Angel." I've helped a lineworker family that lost their home to a fire, bought new climbing boots for a lineman who lost his in a stolen vehicle, gotten school supplies for children in certain tragic situations, donated to lineworker families with terminally ill children. Anything that affects my line family catastrophically affects my heart and I will help if I can. Highline Heroes is non-profit however our 501c3 status is still pending. I feel that once the 501c3 is complete I will be able to grow and bless even more families in need. Anytime you are able to help others, it helps your own heart to heal as well.
Where are you on the journey to getting a National Lineworker Appreciation Day established?
I'm still working toward the goal of having it nationally recognized and I would also like to have our linemen recognized as first responders. It is still my goal to have August 26 be Lineworker Appreciation Day across our nation and I won't stop believing and working toward this goal. Our [federal] laws do not allow for a National Days at this time, they only award days of recognition. August 26 is recorded in Washington as a day of recognition [for lineworkers], along with several other dates as well. My prayer is that the law will change and someday I will open a calendar to August 26 and see Lineworker Appreciation Day. I am most grateful for my day of recognition and all that really matters to me is that we remember the fallen and honor those still serving, every day.