Since 1994, Phyllis Davis has been telling first responders and law enforcement officials thank you.
When she saw how the Little River County first responders organized a search for her 16-year-old son, MacKenzie Collins, she has organized a lunch to pay tribute every year to the men and women like those who tried in vain to recover him from a creek in 1994.
This year, the tribute will be at 2:30 p.m. Dec. 15 at her house on East Ogden Road in southeast Little River County.
"It's something I love doing," Davis said.
MacKenzie Collins drowned Dec. 11, 1994, in the rain-swollen Hudson Creek in Little River County after he fell off a horse.
It was about 5 p.m. that day when MacKenzie and his cousin Bobby Burris were riding horses and attempted to cross the creek which had risen with the rains.
They were about three miles east of MacKenzie's home in East Ogden. They had permission to ride on the property of the late Bubba Wade, who was a state representative.
Bobby's horse reared up and got on the back of MacKenzie's horse.
MacKenzie fell into the creek. He couldn't swim. He went under and was never seen alive again.
MacKenzie and Bobby Burris have since joined each other in heaven, Davis said.
Bobby was killed in a traffic accident Jan. 21, 2016, at the Kansas City Southern Railway and Pine Street on the west side of Ogden, just a few miles from where MacKenzie drowned.
The car accident killed Burris also claimed the life of 10-year-old Braiden Miller.
Since the drowning, Davis has honored rescue volunteers who searched for MacKenzie's body.
Now they remember Bobby with MacKenzie," she said.
Instead of planning for the upcoming holidays, the volunteers searched until 1 a.m. Dec. 12, 1994, with no sign of MacKenzie. They paused for a few hours to rest before returning to the search at 7 a.m.
No one had a depth finder that could function in a fast current. A man from Hope, Ark., was contacted and brought his boat and a more sophisticated depth finder. The image on the depth finder showed a large object near the bottom of the creek. It was MacKenzie.
Chuck Davis and his son, Chas, found MacKenzie. Both men were volunteers.
"The rescue teams don't say it's too cold or too hot or they don't want to do it today. People need to think about what they do and thank them," Phyllis Davis said.
Each year on the weekend closest to Dec. 11, Phyllis Davis has helped to donate life jackets, tires for boat trailers, spotlights, a depth finder and a Global Positioning System unit.
"They all risked their lives to find him and nobody gave them anything back, so I decided to show my appreciation. These men and women have feelings, too," she said.
She now hosts a memorial meal at her house instead of trying to supply equipment.
Some of the people who helped search for MacKenzie have died, and some can no longer physically help in search and rescue.
"I just want to keep his memory alive and help other people," Davis said. "I still think of him every day. I think about hearing his voice. Sometimes I can almost see him.
"I've been criticized and told to let it go. It doesn't matter to me. I'm going to keep doing what I want to do," she said.
"People one day may walk in my shoes and understand if their child dies," she said.
For more information, call 870-898-5016.