Fire Fighter Testimonials: Western Canada

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I first became involved with Muscular Dystrophy Canada 16 years ago as a department representative and now hold a co-position as the NW Alberta Region Fire Fighter Advisor. During these 16 years, I have met some fabulous people from Muscular Dystrophy Canada, Chapters and Fire Fighters across North America. I have had opportunities to attend the Jerry Lewis Telethon, the New York St. Patrick’s Day Parade as well as many Provincial and National Conferences. Being a member of our local Chapter has put me in personal contact with the people we help and provided encouragement to continue the fight to find a cure and — in the meantime — serve the ones who need our help.

Mark Whelpton SCO/Investigator
Fire Prevention Officer
Grande Prairie Fire Department

My involvement with Muscular Dystrophy Canada started the day I was hired by Saskatoon Fire & Protective Services in June of 2000. Volunteering my time has become an integral part of who I am as a Fire Fighter, so much that I took over as coordinator for the Fire Fighters in 2005. Since then I have had the pleasure of introducing a yearly Honorary Fire Fighter starting in 2006 and continuing our Annual Boot Drive.

The families and kids that I have met through our Local Chapter are kind, amazing and beautiful individuals. I am honored to be a part of this organization to help aid in raising money to find a cure. I am also proud of the men and women I work with that take the time to come out and help make a difference. I can put everything together, but it takes a team effort to make it happen.

Saskatoon Fire & Protective Services

Working with Muscular Dystrophy Canada has been a great way for our Association to get involved in our community through connections with the local Muscular Dystrophy chapter. Grande Prairie Fire Fighters draw inspiration from our partnership with the local Chapter and Muscular Dystrophy Canada to continue to work harder for those in need. I appreciate the organization that Muscular Dystrophy Canada provides; often we find ourselves without the time or knowledge to plan events on our own. Muscular Dystrophy Canada has provided a much needed framework to our fundraising, having outlines and resources for many different fundraisers of all sizes, throughout the year.

I would highly recommend Muscular Dystrophy Canada to any departments looking to become active in their community through fundraising and are unsure of how to start or want to expand current fundraising activities.

Todd Russell
1st VP Grande Prairie Fire Fighters Association, IAFF local 2770

The Easter Boot Drive in St. Paul, Alberta, is Fire Fighter driven, and community supported and raises $5,000 to $6,000 a year. Being invited to the Muscular Dystrophy Camp — PRICELESS.

Capt. Glenn Andersen
St. Paul Fire Department

I have been a Fire Fighter with the Redcliff Fire Department for 16 years and have been involved with MDC the whole time. We are a volunteer Fire Department so raising money for Muscular Dystrophy Canada was part of the job. During my second year with the department I became chairman for Muscular Dystrophy Canada.

I think at first, I got involved to see how much money we could raise; then being involved made me realize what a great cause Muscular Dystrophy Canada is. I got more involved a few years ago by becoming a Fire Fighter Advisor. I’ve gained a better understanding of neuromuscular diseases and the reason for my involvement. Meeting clients and going to a Fire Fighter conference was very motivational for me. I see where the fundraising money goes and how important it is. I think our goals are all the same: to find a cure, but until then, to provide the best client services we can by keeping our Fire Fighters involved with fundraising.

Mitch Seifert
Redcliff Fire Department

My name is Kelly Zacharias and I have been involved with Muscular Dystrophy Canada for 20 years. I started out as our department’s MDC chairman in 1987 because of the tradition of Fire Fighters supporting Muscular Dystrophy Canada since 1954. It soon became more than tradition when I started to become more involved with people with neuromuscular disorders and their families and I’m proud to call many of them my friends.

I have been to camps, socials, conferences and chapter meetings with these people and am truly amazed by their positive attitudes and their genuine appreciation for all that Fire Fighters do for Muscular Dystrophy Canada.

Another thing that attracts me to this organization is the quality and commitment of staff and the value Muscular Dystrophy Canada puts on four Fire Fighters on Muscular Dystrophy Canada’s National Board of Directors — one of which is the Chair of the Board.

It is for these reasons that I stay loyal and committed to the cause and together, “Let’s make muscles move”.

Kelly Zacharias
Deputy Fire Chief
Smithers Fire Department

After a long history of working with people with special needs, I joined Langford Fire Rescue in 1989. Within the first month I was assigned a shift for the ‘boot drive’. By the time the next boot drive came around a year later, I was Muscular Dystrophy chair, now raising funds to help some of the people I used to work with. I have run into many of my old friends and met a whole lot of new friends with the work we do with Muscular Dystrophy.

I have been fortunate to have my immediate family involved with all the fundraising events we have worked on, and now both of my children are volunteer Fire Fighters who continue to assist in our events. In February of 2005, I went to Vancouver Hospital with my three brothers and my mother for some testing, which resulted in a positive diagnosis of Muscular Dystrophy in two of my brothers. It’s kind of funny how thing go around in a big circle, and this diagnosis brings the reality of Muscular Dystrophy really close, and strengthens my commitment to finding a cure.

Kerry Zado
Assistant Fire Chief
Langford Fire Rescue

I have enjoyed the challenges I have faced individually and as a group. I have a great sense of fulfillment for the difference we have made as individuals and as Fire Fighters across the country. Through our efforts as Fire Fighters we have changed people’s lives, giving some longer life and others a better enjoyment of life. The challenges that our clients with muscular dystrophy face on a daily basis inspire me to be a better person, to help and inspire those around me, and to face every day with a smile on my face. In the words of Edmund Burke “for evil to triumph, all it takes is for good men and women to do nothing.”

Dale Truscott
Port Coquitlam Fire Fighters, Local 1941
BC/Yukon Fire Fighter Advisor

I didn’t know anything about muscular dystrophy until I attended my first Muscular Dystrophy Canada Fire Fighter Conference a year later and met the staff and people affected by neuromuscular disorders. I was hooked. My whole family became involved in fundraising and now my daughter is the department Muscular Dystrophy Canada chair and one son is a volunteer with our department. I also have another son who Volunteers in Coldstream and when he was with Vernon Volunteers, he was their Department Muscular Dystrophy Canada chair. Our family members are also Charter Members of the Interior BC Chapter. My wife Susan, who is not a Fire Fighter, is our strongest supporter. Without her support and assistance we could not do as much as we do. No one in my family, or in our department, is afflicted with muscular dystrophy but we still fundraise. We do what we do out of tradition and the personal relationships that we have built with the families of people with muscular dystrophy. We all hope that we won’t have to keep up this relationship for another 53 years and that there will be a cure.

Brian Henderson
Volunteer Fire Chief, Ashcroft Volunteer Fire Department
Vice Chair and Provincial Campaign Chair BC/Yukon Fire Fighter Advisory Group

Canadian firefighters have a well-established and proud tradition of fundraising for Muscular Dystrophy Canada and as is the case in any Fire Fighting emergency, we won’t leave until the job is done.

There are only so many hours in the day and to do the best job, choices have to be made. My choice was to become involved with an organization that operates as a true team, one where the focus of all we do is firmly on those affected by neuromuscular disorders.

My experience of the fellowship, commitment and unselfish desire to do a good job, shown by the volunteers and staff associated with Muscular Dystrophy Canada, provides me with the incentive and encouragement to continue to do all I can do to find a cure and to provide some comfort to those affected by Muscular Dystrophy.

The courage that the public thinks that Fire Fighters have, pales in comparison to the courage shown by those with muscular dystrophy. They are the real heroes and are the ones who give me the inspiration to continue to help the cause.

When you become a Fire Fighter, whether career or volunteer, you join a world-wide family and with family comes a bond which collectively is very powerful. When a family decision is made to go to the aid of another family, which could use a little help, the sense of doing something worthwhile in a world full of selfishness and greed is very gratifying.

Being a part of the Fire Fighting family provides me with the satisfaction of having helped in some small way to make life easier for the members of the muscular dystrophy family.

Dave Ferguson
Cowichan Bay Volunteer Fire Rescue

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