When you join our Prince William County Fire and Rescue System team, you become part of the family. And just like families have causes that are near and dear to their hearts, so do we! A great example of this is seen through our Occoquan-Woodbridge-Lorton Volunteer Fire Department (OWLVFD).
One of their retention benefits for members includes social events, including their popular 6:01 Club parties, aptly named because they begin at 6:01 p.m. OWLVFD 6:01 parties have always been fantastic events that bring members, their families and friends together to further forge the volunteer fire department bond that they share. OWLVFD Life Member Tony Carroll came up with the idea for raising money for an organization outside of themselves — the St. Baldrick’s Childhood Cancer Research Foundation. In 2006, Carroll was serving as the Assistant Chief overseeing the department’s recruitment and retention efforts. He saw other fire and rescue departments participating in St. Baldrick’s fundraising and decided to tie this in with the existing 6:01 club party.
The goal for the first event in 2006 was to raise $1,000, but OWLVFD members raised over $6,000. Carroll’s wife, Heather, who is also a life member at the OWLVFD, explained, “As it gained momentum, we started spotlighting some local kids that had been impacted by cancer.”
These included Zack Wessolleck, a current member and son of Life Members Harry and Sue Wessolleck. Also, Trevor Blake and Parker Boyd. Trevor, a Woodbridge resident, was diagnosed with stage 4 neuroblastoma. He lost his battle to cancer in 2013 at age 11. Trevor attended the OWLVFD St. Baldrick’s event a few times before his passing. Parker, also a Woodbridge resident, lost his battle to cancer in 2008 at age 9. His family has attended a few events, as well.
St. Baldrick’s raises money for children fighting childhood cancer. According to St. Baldrick’s, “worldwide, 300,000 children are diagnosed with cancer each year. And in the U.S., more children die of childhood cancer than any other disease — more than AIDS, asthma, cystic fibrosis, congenital anomalies and diabetes combined.” These statistics are sobering, and OWLVFD decided that, as a department, they wanted to make a difference.
St. Baldrick’s prioritizes their research to make the greatest impact possible in fighting childhood cancer, and the OWLVFD now prioritizes supporting their efforts. OWLVFD members take pledges from family, friends, community members and organizations, with 100% of contributions going to St. Baldrick’s Foundation. Once a member reaches their fundraising goal, they have their head shaved at the annual March event.
Over the years, several other fire departments have begun participating in the event too; the passion and excitement of helping others is contagious. The OWLVFD have raised more than $400,000 for St. Baldrick’s since the program began. That’s a lot of money and a lot of bald firefighters — more than 600 to be exact! Here’s what a few of our OWLVFD members have to say about their work for St. Baldrick’s:
“I enjoy participating in St. Baldrick’s every year because of the purpose of the event. To help raise funds and awareness for finding a cure to childhood cancer. As I write this, I look at my two healthy loving boys and know that a lot of other people used to do the same thing till that one day when their lives changed forever. Even though the survival rate has improved there are still too many children waiting for a cure or break thru to develop in science before they die. I can only hope that the funds I contribute help make a difference.” – Rick Moore, OWLVFD Life Member
“I participate because it is a great fundraiser to contribute to. I ask local vendors to contribute to our silent auction and raffle. I love to bid on the silent auction items.” – Michelle Bauer, OWLVFD Member
“I am happy to help raise awareness for childhood cancer research. Being able to shave my head and show my commitment to this cause is just a small part of giving back to the community. The attention my bald head gets is a great conversation starter and I am proud to have participated. I will be doing this again.” – Frank Bruno, OWLVFD Firefighter/Engine Driver
Are you ready to become part of something bigger, better and brighter? Come join us and enhance your life experiences, formal training and support network by becoming a PWCFRS member. Find out more today.
Are you looking for a change? Here in Prince William County, the volunteer departments provide fire and emergency medical services to the County’s citizens and visitors during weekday evenings, weekends and holidays. Prince William County’s volunteer fire and rescue departments are seeking motivated individuals who have the desire to make a difference and provide an important service to their community. Learn more now.
- Posted by ATW
- On August 21, 2019
- 0 Comments