Each and every day, linemen put their lives on the line to keep the power on for our nation. Often, they are the first responders following natural disasters and car accidents, and they work long hours in severe weather conditions to provide for their families.
As one of the Top 10 most dangerous occupations, the line industry loses men and women every year. Other times, linemen are injured on the job or can’t work because of an unforeseen catastrophe.
To support families in their time of need, Tracy Moore created the Highline Hero Foundation, following the death of her lineman husband, Marc Moore, in the line of duty in 2002. She says the years following her husband’s death have been filled with not only emotion and grief but also an unfailing passion to keep Marc’s memory alive, to bring awareness, honor and recognition to lineworkers, and to promote the importance of safety.
“Even in darkness as the widow of a Highline Hero, it remains a privilege to be a member of the line family and to recognize and honor the trade that will forever remain close at heart and the center of my daily prayers,” she says. “I am here to emotionally support any line widow who is in need of someone to talk to. I have reached out to many, and there is definitely a sisterhood within the brotherhood. I don’t want any line window to ever feel like she is alone on this journey because I am here for them anytime day or night.”
Providing Financial Support
Following her husband’s tragic accident, his friends from Lakeland Electric in Lakeland, Florida, set up a trust fund for her and her two sons, who were 16 months old and four years old at the time. Today, she wants to give back to other families of linemen who are either injured or killed, either on or off the job site and or suffer anything catastrophic within their family. “I want to help others even more so than I was helped,” she says. “While it’s wonderful to get support emotionally, you also need some financial support, as well.”
Over the last few years, her foundation has been able to help linemen’s families in a variety of ways. For example, the foundation provided assistance to alleviate a family’s financial burden when the father died and the mother faced many expenses but had to wait a long time to receive the life insurance money.
In other cases, linemen may not be able to work and earn money because of unforeseen circumstances. For example, one lineman had to miss a significant amount of work to care for his sick baby, and the Highline Hero Foundation helped to buy Christmas presents for his children. Another traveling lineman kept all of his gear on his truck, and when his vehicle was stolen, he lost his entire livelihood.
“We got him back on his feet so he could go back to work, and because it was right before school started, we bought all the school supplies and backpacks for his children, as well,” she says. “The kids were very excited, and they wrote me a thank you letter.”
Closer to home in Lakeland, Moore says she helped one lineman’s family after their home burned down. Following the incident, she helped the family to sort through the rubble to find photographs and purchase items to help them to rebuild their lives.
Highline Heroes, which has a Facebook page and a website, receives requests for assistance through social media or from linemen’s friends and family. To apply for assistance, families must state the reason for the need, the name of the company where the lineman works or worked, and list names of references.
Moore is currently working on applying for 501(c)(3) status for her foundation, which has been established as a nonprofit organization since May 2012. Because she didn’t want to take money out of the foundation to pay for it, she has worked to raise the necessary funds herself, and she is now finishing up the paperwork.
So far, she has raised money for the foundation through the sale of T-shirts and wrist bands, and donations from linemen at safety meetings. During her presentations, she shares her personal story about her late husband and tries to spread the message that “safety has no speed” and “you are your brother’s keeper.”
“This started out as a journey of learning to live again and striving to make sure that my boys never forget their daddy, and it has developed into a ministry of safety,” she says. “It is a blessing to me each time I can share my story in hopes of helping others through my tragedy.”
As part of her mission, Moore also worked to establish a Lineman’s Appreciation Day in the city where her husband worked as a lineman. In 2011, Moore and her two sons were invited to attend a city commission meeting, where the mayor declared every Aug. 26 as Lineman Appreciation Day in Lakeland. After working to gain public awareness and appreciation for linemen at the local level, she then worked to establish a statewide day for linemen. A year later, her family gathered with linemen from 18 different counties at the Florida capitol building for the proclamation of Lineworker Appreciation Day.
Going forward, Moore says she wants the 114,000 line workers in the country to be recognized as first responders, alongside police officers and fire fighters.
“Linemen are heroes to me, and I want our nation to recognize them as the heroes that they are,” she says.
Editor’s note: To contribute to the Highline Hero Foundation or make a request for help for a lineman’s family, please visit www.highlineheroes.org or follow the organization on Facebook. To see a video clip of the first Lineworker Appreciation Day ceremony in Florida, visit http://www.youtube.com/ watch?v=4PxxX5dAN2E.