Firefighters & Fundraisers is the brainchild of a local group of firefighters who want to give back to the community. What started out with just a basic idea of raising money for breast cancer patients has quickly grown into a much larger purpose.
10 years ago this October, Putnam County Firefighter/EMT David Bent, lost his mother to breast cancer. Since that time, he has continually donated to Breast Cancer Awareness causes. After he met his wife, Candice Bent, in 2009, they began to participate in 5k walks for Breast Cancer Awareness. Once David’s co-workers began to see him walking in the 5k’s in full bunker gear, they quickly joined in. It started with just one and now has grown into a group of anywhere between 10-20 firefighters, depending on what their shift schedule is. Most of the firefighters are employed by Putnam County, however they even have brothers and sisters join them from as far away as Kingsland, GA! They bring their spouses, significant others, children, friends and friends of friends!
As the interest in the group grew, David began to have an idea. With the help of his wife and co-worker Jacob Tollette, they slowly started building Firefighters & Fundraisers from the ground up and has worked hard to raise money for breast cancer patients, a fallen police officer’s family, families with children who have contracted non-curable illnesses, fellow firefighters and many more. In addition to the money they raise, they also work hard to find de-commissioned helmets and air packs and then have them custom painted and detailed for a particular cause and either raffle them off for more donations or donate them to the patients themselves; as well as cleaning up local parks, helping to build wheelchair ramps for those who are unable, and many other tasks.
What started out as a group of co-workers has blossomed into an organization who is tired of being unable to ensure that the money they raise is kept 100% local to patients, families, fallen brothers and sisters of the First Responder Brotherhood and veterans in Northeast Florida and is now seeking to establish themselves as a non-profit organization. With this designation, they will be able to ensure that the money raised is kept to the Northeast Florida area and as much as possible will be provided (they will not be taking salaries, as this is a completely volunteer organization). They will be able to work with local schools in order to provide high school students with volunteer hours needed in exchange for labor to help with building wheelchair ramps, mowing lawns and whatever other daily living tasks that they may be able to provide help with for those who are unable.
In past years, they have raised money throughout the month of October and donated it to breast cancer patients (last year, over $4,000 was raised!); however, this year will be different as they have recently lost one of their own to suicide. This October, they will be raising money for Breast Cancer Awareness and Suicide Awareness. The first weekend of October, the group will be participating in Pink Up the Pace and then working with the creators of the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention-North Florida Chapter at their 1st Annual Putnam Out of the Darkness Community Walk the following Saturday. They are also planning for a Veteran’s Day 5k, in which they will donate a specially designed fire helmet to a local veteran, and many more throughout the upcoming months.
Unfortunately, applying for a non-profit status with the State of Florida and IRS is not cheap. It costs approximately $600 just to apply. They have already applied to the State of Florida for their non-profit corporation status, however, they still need to apply to the IRS. They are asking for donations to assist with these costs in order to get up and running before it is time for them to once again start raising money for their busy month of October.
Their Facebook: www.facebook.com/firefightersfundraisers/
Facebook Group: www.facebook.com/groups/129637524434455/