One fire fighter died. Another remained alive, but was in critical condition for weeks after the Jan. 6 explosion at the ADM (Archer Daniels Midland) plant in Clinton.

After hearing about fire fighter Adam Cain, who was fighting for his life at the University of Iowa Hospital, a group of Bellevue Elementary teachers who lead the school’s ‘Blue Bandana’ activities encouraged their young students to write get well cards and notes of thanks for being a fire fighter this past winter.

Fast forward to last Friday, and Cain not only recovered from his injuries after falling 88 feet, he visited the Bellevue Elementary School to express his thanks to the students for their words of encouragement. It was good for the fireman, and it was good for the students.

“I’m a man of few words, but the cards and letters you sent really put a smile on my face,” Cain told the young students. He received a standing ovation from all present at the impromptu assembly in the Bellevue Elementary gymnasium.

Cain had contacted longtime Bellevue fire fighter and former Fire Chief Chris Roling, saying he wanted to come and express his gratitude.

Roling also expressed his appreciation and reminded the students of the importance of fire fighters and all emergency responders who put their lives on the line every day at a moment’s notice.

According to school officials, the whole ‘Blue Bandana’ group is all about fire fighter and emergency responders. It all began shortly after the Sept. 11 terror attacks of 2001.

“The Blue Bandana idea came from Welles Crowther's red handkerchief. Welles rescued others on 911.  He perished on that day, but was identified as the the "man with the red handkerchief," explained Bellevue Elementary Principal Jeanette Hartung-Schroeder. “Having Adam come here was beneficial for him as well as the students.

Cain’s fellow fire fighter, Clinton Lt. Eric Hosette perished in the same explosion that Cain survived.