Featured Keynote Speaker
Andrew King Needum
Photographer Shealah Craighead
We are excited to have Andrew King Needum as our keynote speaker.
Andrew King Needum, was born on September 30, 1983 to Tommy and Julie Needum. He was raised in the small rural town of Celina, Texas, and grew up working on his grandfather’s farm. He spent many years tending to the cattle and helping manage crops. He received a Bachelor of Science degree in Agriculture Service and Development from Tarleton State University in 2006. In 2007 he married his wife, Stephanie, and began serving on the Weston Volunteer Fire Department, in Weston, TX.
After one year as a volunteer, he knew that the fire service was where he needed to be and enrolled in Collin College Fire Academy and graduated with EMT-B and Structural Fire Fighter certifications in 2010. Over the next few years, he and Stephanie became proud parents of their two children, Colten and Ellie.
In 2014 he began his commissioned career, as a paid firefighter for the Rowlett Fire Department, and in 2016 came back to his hometown to serve the community he grew up in, by joining the Celina Fire Department. As a Firefighter/Paramedic having the opportunity to serve, comes naturally to him; helping those who helped mold him into the man he is today, is where he feels called to serve.
He completed paramedic school in May of 2018 and is now recognized as a Licensed Paramedic in the state of Texas. Andrew is now more locally known for his actions aboard Southwest Airlines Flight 1380, where he and his family were flying home from a vacation in New York City when the jet engine on the left side suffered catastrophic damage sending shrap metal into a window on the aircraft. Andrew, along with Tim McGinty, sprang into action pulling Jennifer Riordan back into the cabin. It was at that moment he and Peggy Phillips, began resuscitation efforts in an attempt to save her life as Captain Tammy Jo Shults and First Officer Darren Ellisor landed the plane safely. Andrew is known to many as a Hero for his actions that day; but if you were to ask him, he would tell you that God placed him on that plane for a reason and he was just doing what he has always been called to do…serve others.
Also Featuring Chief Rex Evens
Rex Evans, 49 years old. From Houston, Texas. Grew up most of that time with a unique perspective. Remember the movie Backdraft? Well, that was my life. I literally grew up in one Firehouse or another. My family have been Houston Fire Fighters and Harris County Deputies for four generations. Most of my 30 year career was in Harris County as a Deputy Sheriff and Fire Fighter in Houston. I worked in between those two jobs at Astroworld and the Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo as a Deputy. I left Harris County in 2010 for Liberty Co. Sheriff’s Office where I served as Captain, over Field Operations Command. I left Liberty County to become the new Chief of Police for Cleveland ISD. While at CISD I fought for Rights of Special Needs Children and even testified before both Houses and Special Committees on violence and bullying. Also, helped in passing the law requiring cameras in the classroom of designated Special Needs Children. I have most recently moved to Splendora ISD Police Department as their new Chief of Police and am currently building a new Police Department for Splendora ISD.
Rex does, indeed, have a unique perspective. As an example, this is a snippet of but one of his Facebook posts;
“In the midst of all that, I stop from time to time to see some news story about something that has or is going on. After being around as many years I have been (thankful for them all) I tend to see folks I know on screen as they go about doing what must be done, so others do not have to.
So others do not have to…Do not have to see a deceased child or children. So others do not have to hear the mournful, terrible cries of a Mother, Grandmother and the screams of other family members begging for God, for Mercy for you, yes you, to do something. To turn it all around. To tell them, what you just had to look them in the eye and tell them, isn’t true.
But, true it was and sadly, true it remains.
Such scenes as what so many Deputies, Fire/EMS, Investigators are having to witness, process and endure this afternoon…They are far more common than you’d might think. These men and women, they see more, hear more, smell and feel more than anyone could possibly fathom or imagine in their worst, deepest and darkest of nightmares.”