SMOKEY POINT — The 16th annual “Dalmatian Drive” offered the return of an old tradition on Saturday, July 20, as the yard behind Marysville Fire District Station 63 in Smokey Point served as the site for a “family fun day,” complete with barbecue meals, athletic activities on bouncy structures, DJ music and even free hair and nail styling.
Becky Hader, who works the front desk of Marysville Chiropractic, added the cookout get-together to their business’ usual month-long fundraiser after Marysville firefighter Grant Elsworth recalled how firefighters and their families had previously come together for picnics and other events in the grass-covered yard behind the fire station.
“We’ve had at least 100 attendees, which is more than we expected,” said Hader, who explained that the Dalmatian Drive was started by Marysville Chiropractic’s Dr. Bob DeFever and Marysville firefighter Jeff Thornton, who passed away from cancer on Sept. 11, 2011. “One of our patients owns the Competition Hair Salon, so she donated her time for this event, and the bouncy structures were donated by The House church. We feel really good about the fact that nobody is making any money off this event, because 100 percent of what we raise goes back into the Dalmatian program.”
Marysville Fire District paramedic and aid units carry stuffed Dalmatian dogs for fire personnel to distribute to children, to comfort them in their time of distress. Although the total donations are still being added up, the goal for this year was to raise enough money to purchase 500 Dalmatians. Each Dalmatian costs $4, and for every $3 donated, Marysville Chiropractic will pay $1.
“This makes such a difference to these kids, and even to their parents,” said Marysville Fire Capt. Keith Taylor, who served as the event’s DJ, and joined Hader and Elsworth in crediting the International Association Of Firefighters Local 3219 with donating $500 to cover the costs of the day’s activities. “When they’re coping with emergency situations, it helps mitigate their stress and trauma. Jeff Thornton started this in the 1990s, so it’s important to us to carry on his tradition. Back then, we also used to do fun picnics in the yard behind the fire station, so Grant Elsworth thought it would be a good idea to get that ball rolling again.”
“I just wanted this day to be a celebration of families, both those of our firefighters and those of the surrounding community,” said Elsworth, who was quick to defer credit for the event. “We wanted to celebrate the community that’s always supported us.”
“People are always telling our firefighters, ‘Thank you,’ and that level of support just makes our jobs a lot easier,” Taylor agreed.