Austin Crossing Guard in Running to be America’s Favorite! VOTE!

AUSTIN, Texas – As the sun begins to rise, Lonnell Shackles gears up for duty as a crossing guard at Harris Elementary School in Austin's Windsor Park neighborhood. 

  • Shackles started in 2013
  • Contest open worldwide
  • Last day to vote is Thursday

The Vietnam-era Army veteran joined the city'sSafe Routes to Schoolprogram just a few years after his wife lost her battle with breast cancer.

For Shackles, it was something to pass the time and utilize his prior experiences and skills.

"I used to do a lot of guard duty when I was in the military," said Shackles. "You know, getting the troops pumped up in the morning to get started - well it's pretty much the same thing with the children. You're the first face they're going to see."

Shackles has taken the responsibility seriously, building a rapport with the children and parents passing through at the corner of Berkman and Northridge. He understands that he can play a much bigger role than just carefully getting students to school.

"From the brain surgeon, to the next discovery of what's going on in outer space, who's going to be the mayor, who's going to be the next union president - they're all going in here," said Shackles. "I want to be a peg along the road of life as they're traveling to be something positive."

Every fist bump, wave, and smile helps to get Shackles message of positivity across - even to drivers simply passing through. 

Out of more than 200 crossing guards scattered across the Austin Independent School District, Shackles' extreme attention to safety and his above-and-beyond upbeat attitude on the job had supervisors and school administrators feel it was more than appropriate to nominate Shackles for the Safe Kids’Worldwide 2020 America's Favorite Crossing Guard of the Year


Shackles said word of his nomination brought a tear to his eye.

"I think the best way to say it right now - that it was gripping," recalled Shackles.

His nomination is something Shackles has taken to heart, but he’s always loved his job since the start. He said his job is simple but has room to make a major impact on the future of Austin and its future leaders.

Just one other crossing guard in Texas has been nominated for the award this year - Jo Lynne Marlin, a crossing guard in The Woodlands who's been at it for 21 years, according to her bio on the Safe Kids website.

The top five crossing guards that receive the most votes become finalists. Those finalists from across the country will then go before a judging panel that will then pick a winner. The winner will receive $500 in new crossing guard gear and accessories, a pep-rally and award ceremony - and of course bragging rights.

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