Firefighters are the ones that run in when others run out. Unfortunately, sometimes they do not make it out.
But a nonprofit organization in Northern
To honor and remember – that’s just part of the mission statement for the National Fallen Firefighters Foundation in Emmitsburg. In 1992, Congress created the nonprofit to honor
“It is important for the family members to get together, to know they are not alone,” said Beverly Donlon, director of family programs. “That is the biggest investment that the foundation does…is to provide opportunities for them…to get together with other people who truly understand their loss.”
For the last 20 years, the foundation has offered several programs and events to bring those families together, including a fire service survivor’s network, a wellness conference and weekends of remembrance.
“They get a chance to be with each other…people understand what they went through,” Donlon added. “They get workshops related to grief and how to deal with that and remain well, take care of themselves and still be able to go through their lives for the better.”
The foundation offers financial assistance for post-secondary education and training to spouses, life partners and children.
“Because of them, I was able to receive my associate’s, my bachelor’s and my masters degree,” said member Mariann Adamski.
At 19 years old, Adamski received her first scholarship from the foundation. Her father died in 1990, when she was seven years old. Her father, Thomas Hicks, was riding on the back of a fire engine that collided with another car. The engine flipped, and landed on Hicks.
“I try to take the small memories that I have and hold them close,” Adamski explained.
Hicks’ name is engraved on one of the plaques that circle the memorial, which lists other names of fallen firefighters. Adamski has been involved with the foundation for almost 20 years, not only to receive support but to help others who are going through what she went through. She said it helps to continue to keep her father’s spirit alive.
“When things first happen, you do feel very very alone,” Adamski said. “It is sad that there are other people out there, but it is just the idea of knowing that there are people that will be able to help.”
The National Fallen Firefighters Foundation has expanded its mission statement to include fire prevention.