Every summer we hear the news that makes us heartsick: wildland firefighters die in the line of duty. They are killed in burn-overs, vehicle accidents, helicopters, tanker crashes, and heart attacks. Their lives touch many family members, friends, and co-workers. Survivors are left to struggle with incomprehensible loss and the financial burden that comes from fatalities and injuries.
Who will help them after their firefighter has paid the ultimate price? The light at the end of that tunnel is the Wildland Firefighter Foundation. It takes your help to keep doing this good work. Since the Foundation was formed, we have given away more than 1.5 million dollars in emergency grants to injured firefighters and families of fallen firefighters.
Almost everyone can afford to donate just $1 per week for a year. That is $52 for an annual donation. Challenge your buddies, friends, family, and communities to join in. You’ll get a pin, but what you really get is knowing we’ll be there when things go bad for our firefighters.
Join the 52 Club individually or have your company or organization listed as a Gold Member when at least 75% of all its employees enroll.
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I just wanted to say THANK YOU. Thank you for all that you do for the families who are suffering a tragic loss, thank you for putting your heart into an organization that supports all of these families, and thank you for all of the help you have given to my family. I know that you have spent a great deal of time over the past several years providing support to my parents and helping them through the unfortunate politics of my brothers situation. Losing someone is hard enough, but having to justify the legitimacy of the situation and defend him to an agency he lost his life for, is absolutely horrifying. As you know, our family is still struggling with this.
Through this entire ordeal, YOU are the one person who my parents have felt was on our side; always keeping my brothers honor and our families best interest in mind. Your support and guidance has been appreciated more than you will ever know. When you lose someone close to you, you already have a million questions of grief in your mind, the last thing you want is other people questioning the loss, or its worth. You have never judged, you have just been there. For whatever questions my parents have, or whatever they have needed, you are always there, and I thank you for that.
Much has been spoken of the 19 Granite Mountain Hotshots who lost their lives on June 30, 2013 on the Yarnell Hill Fire. Memorial services were held. Official reports have been filed. This essay is one firefighter’s attempt to creatively describe his thoughts and sentiments of what he observed as a result of this tragedy. It is not an official record, and it is subject to the confines of memory and personal interpretation. It is written as tribute to the 19 hotshots and to those who mourn their loss. May we always carry an added measure of dedication in our hearts toward all worthy causes as we remember the ultimate price they paid.
August 14, 2006, will forever be a date etched in my heart. My husband, Casey, was injured when he was riding passenger in a heavy fire engine and the truck rolled 3/4 of a turn. Casey sustained several fractures to his pelvis and had to be life-flighted. Through the healing power of prayer and the miraculous work of his surgeon and physical therapists, he was able to come back this season at 100% and return to the fire line. Vicki, we cannot thank you enough for all your love and support through this past year. My heart is overwhelmed with such gratitude for you and this Foundation. I truly cannot express how much you mean to Casey and I. My family would like to thank you and all your staff for your hard work and never-ending love that you provide our firefighters and their families each and every day. God bless you and your staff, and again, thank you.
The Gift :: I have a gift, I did not want this gift; it meant suffering and pain. The pain came because of love, A love which had manifested itself in a child. The child brought its love to me and and asked for my love. Sometimes I did not understand this. Sometimes I did not appreciate it. Sometimes I was too busy to listen quietly to this love. But the love persisted; it was always there. One day the child died. The love remained. This time the love came in other forms. This time there were memories; there was sadness and anguish. And unbelievable pain. One day a stranger said, “I understand,” and did. You see, the stranger had also been this way. We talked a cried together. The stranger became my friend as no other had. My friend said, “I am always here,” and was. One day I lifted my head. I noticed another grieving, gray and drawn with pain. I approached and spoke. I touched and comforted. I said “I will walk with you,” and did. I also had the gift.
(Written by Joe Lawley Co-founder of the Compassionate Friends)
I wish to express my support for the Wildland Firefighter Foundation and their mission of support for the Wildland fire community. The Wildland Firefighter Foundation has supported our crew in the past during a time of need. They were truly unbelievable in how they supported our crew and family of our fallen firefighter. We have worked to raise funds for the Foundation and will continue to support the Wildland Firefighter Foundation in any way possible. Their mission is one that is without equal in our community and definitely needed to support our efforts.
I want to thank you from the bottom of my heart for helping me and my family. You have no idea, or maybe you do, the importance of having family in the room when you wake from surgery. I was lucky enough to wake and find both my parents, and the boyfriend I love dearly, there with me. There was nothing more I could have asked for during the scary and painful days after my accident. I thank you for your support, sincerely. As soon as I am able, I will come and visit in person – walking. As people have asked what they can do to help me, I have asked them to start a collection for your foundation. I hope they do and I promise I will contribute all I can, for as long as I am able. You make such a difference. I appreciate everything – your phone calls – everything. I am getting better each day and hope to be walking by Christmastime. Thank you, thank you, thank you.
Lynn & Jake
It’s been 2 years today since we found out that Jerry would never come home again. Sometimes it seems like it just happened and other times it seems like he’s been gone a really long time. He lives in our hearts now and his spirit is with me every day. I will never stop talking to him. When I get really lonely for him I just reflect on all the memories, good and bad. All of you have helped me so much. You have all become a part of my life, I feel like there are people out there who truly understand and care. I go to your web site probably 2 or 3 times a day even if nothing there has changed. It keeps me connected to the “fire world”. It helps me to realize how respected our firefighters are. It helps me know that there are so many other people out there that share a loss and have to deal with it from now on. I will never be able to thank the foundation properly for all that you give us, all us us…the survivors… God Bless you all.
To have the Wildland Firefighter Foundation in existence is comforting to us as Hotshots. We have had friends and coworkers lose lives on and off of the fire line and to know that the Wildland Firefighter Foundation is out there and takes care of all of us and our families. The Palomar Hotshots have raised funds for the Wildland Firefighter Foundation, knowing that if any of us ever need help the Wildland Firefighter Foundation will be there. It is for those that we do not know, that we do not work with that we raise money for. It is worth great pride and honor that we put our name on this foundation.
Burk Minor, Executive Director with the WFF contacted me the day after the incident, offering help to family of the injured jumper. This nonprofit organization stepped in and has paid, or offered to pay, for plane tickets, motels, car rental and food for the family. Burk’s generous and tireless efforts have helped make the family’s stay in a strange city, under a stressful situation, a bit more tolerable.
My girlfriend had a smokejumping accident in New Mexico resulting in multiple broken bones. The WFF contacted us immediately after Sara’s accident and offered assistance of every kind. The WFF assured us that they would make sure Sara was receiving the best care possible, and they followed up on it. They also offered financial assistance and assured us they would help in every way possible. Just knowing they were there to help and knowing we did not have to worry about financial issues was a big relief. They took care of problems before they became an issue and guided us through our misfortune. Their level of involvement was beyond professional. They called at the appropriate times with useful information and support. They helped me as a federal employee with my absence from work and guided my employers on how to effectively support me. It is very obvious they have helped other families in times of need and they do their job well. I cannot thank them enough. I urge everyone to become a member of the 52 club. The WFF is an outstanding, non-profit organization. They provide exceptional support and the best piece of mind possible when firefighters are in need of assistance. I strongly encourage you to become a member so the WFF can continue to help firefighters in times of need. I sincerely want to thank the Wildland Firefighter Foundation for all their support.
My name is Emily and I recently had an accident involving a chainsaw on the fireline. I can never express how wonderful it was to wake up in the hospital to hear that my mom was on the way and to have her by my side through the whole ordeal. Knowing that there are people like you out there allows us to all sleep better at night. My recovery is coming along very quickly, and after I get the stitches removed tomorrow, I hope to be released by the doctor and put back to work! Thank you once again for all of your help. Your support has made all the difference in the world!