WASHINGTON, D.C. – A music legend used to getting applause was the one doling out praises recently.
Roberta Flack not only doled out accolades to the members of the Alexandria Fire Department for their efforts to raise money for the fight against breast cancer, she also rendered Chief Adam Thiel virtually speechless.
Flack met privately with Alexandria firefighters and city officials following a performance at the Kennedy Center where the orchestra section that night was awash in pink.
Flack said she was excited to hear about the department's efforts to help raise money for women to get mammograms and help with other expenses related to breast cancer.
The longtime friend of Alexandria Assistant Chief Denise Pouget, Flack said she was more than willing to do her part to help promote the cause.
The shirts, designed by Capt. Rodney Masser, are still available for sale to the public.
Throughout the month, department personnel switched from blue to pink.
Thiel said he supports the cause 100 percent. "The money from the shirts goes to women with breast cancer who are facing expenses."
Flack told the firefighters she was overwhelmed. "This is amazing. This is amazing it can happen at a fire department."
She said being included is personal for her because of the relationship she shares with Pouget, who is the goddaughter of Flack's mother.
The songwriter and singer praised the firefighters for stepping out and helping in their community. "You guys, this is amazing…You have civic responsibilities. You’re firefighters. It's not like you’re looking for something to do."
She said she was honored they included her.
Smiling, Thiel, said he felt it was incredible that Flack was having difficulty finding words. "Pretty rarely am I speechless either. But I kind of am."
The chief added that being close to the legend was an an honor, and almost more than he could handle.
He made her an honorary member of the Alexandria Fire Department, presenting her with a pink helmet and a pink T-shirt.
Masser said it was an honor to be part of the event, and that Flack has a shirt he designed. "It was incredible."
After the presentation, Flack mingled and chatted with the Alexandria crowd and had pictures taken with them.
Battalion Chief Dwayne Bonnett said he enjoyed the performance, adding that it was really special that Flack came to talk to them personally.