WHAT WE DO.
FireK 5K, Inc. is a 501-c3 charity that seeks to raise funds for firefighters and their immediate family members who are battling cancer. In addition to financial assistance for firefighting families, we provide firefighters with no-cost or low-cost preemptive cancer screenings in accordance with the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) guidelines. We also connect firefighters with the resources and knowledge to mitigate their risks of cancer.
Cancer is the most dangerous threat to firefighter health and safety today.
Cancer caused 66 percent of the career firefighter line-of-duty deaths from 2002 to 2019, according to data from the International Association of Fire Fighters (IAFF). Heart disease caused 18 percent of career LODDs for the same period.
Cancer caused 70 percent of the line-of-duty deaths for career firefighters in 2016.
Firefighters have a 9 percent higher risk of being diagnosed with cancer and a 14 percent higher risk of dying from cancer than the general U.S. population, according to research by the CDC/National Institute for Occupational Health and Safety (NIOSH).
The cancers mostly responsible for this higher risk were respiratory (lung, mesothelioma), GI (oral cavity, esophageal, large intestine), and kidney.
While we understand nothing alleviates the pain of having cancer, FireK strives to offset some of the financial difficulties these brave heroes face. Any firefighter or an immediate family member that has been diagnosed with cancer may be nominated to receive financial assistance. FireK disperses a minimum of $1,000 to a minimum of 3 recipients every year. An independent panel of firefighters from local departments decide the order in which the nominees are assisted.
Our nonprofit has no paid staff. All personnel who assist with the operation of FireK do so on a volunteer basis with no financial reimbursements. Our funding is mainly from fundraising events and donations.
Every year, we host a 5K run as our main fundraising event. Anyone can participate. Our run is professionally timed and USATF certified. Firefighters even run in full gear and compete as teams. There’s also a 1 mile fun run, a “fun zone” for kids with bouncy houses, a live DJ, a fire safety house, food and lots more. All proceeds above the event’s operating budget are divided between FireK’s 3 missions: assistance to firefighters, preemptive cancer screening for firefighters and occupational cancer awareness.
So far, FireK has assisted firefighter families with more than $20,000 in assistance and we hope that number continues to grow!
Our Board of Directors.
Phillip is a career firefighter who has worked for multiple jurisdictions throughout the CSRA. He’s been a firefighter for 23 years working for Augusta Fire, Columbia County Fire Rescue and currently serving with the Savannah River Site Fire Department (SRSFD). With the help of his fellow SRSFD firefighters, Phillip founded Fire K 5K, Inc. in 2013. In addition to his leadership role, he is the event coordinator for the annual FireK 5K run.
Tony is a founding member of FireK and has proudly served the Savannah River Site Fire Department for the last 32 years. His function on the board is to oversee the voting process. His passion for fitness and in particular, running has been an inspiration to his fellow firefighters for years. In his free time, Tony also works for the Richmond County Marshal’s department and Lowe’s where he has been employed for 18 years! Tony has served on numerous civic boards and community projects, including the YMCA of South Augusta.
Chief Financial Officer
Darren is also a Savannah River Site firefighter and has been a firefighter since 2008. He became involved with FireK in 2015 and has dedicated his efforts to streamlining expenditures and generating funds for FireK. Prior to becoming a firefighter, he worked in the field of accounting. He still manages his own business, Woo Financial, where he assists clients with retirement and financial counseling.
KELLY J. WEATHERS
Kelly is the wife of firefighter Phillip Weathers. She is in charge of all records and documentation for FireK and distributes that information in accordance with the needs of the organization. Besides her FireK duties, Kelly is the Chief Assistant to the District Attorney for the middle circuit of Georgia. She has served the state of Georgia as a prosecutor for 12 years. In Kelly’s free time, she enjoys gardening and animal rescue.
MICHAEL "ROCKY" BLESSING
Chief Financial Officer
Rocky is a firefighter with Savannah River Fire Department. Before coming to SRSFD, he served with Columbia County Fire Rescue alongside his brother and father who are also firefighters. His duties with FireK include overseeing the nomination process and selection of recipients for FireK funds. Rocky splits his spare time between his successful construction business, Blessing Construction, and his children’s sporting events where he often coaches.
Roles of our other directors in the annual 5K run.
Rey Ruiz - Children’s Events
Donna Minter - Volunteer Coordinator
Ken Burrows and Evan Davis - Course Directors
Amy Ingram - Registration Director
Dwayne Sanford - Setup and Breakdown
Joseph Vine - Photography