Molle Toyota to host First Responders Safety Telethon

Funds raised by Hero Fund USA helped purchase bunker gear for Inter-City Fire Protection District personnel in 2018. Photo courtesy Darrell Smith/Hero Fund USA. 


Molle Toyota to host First Responders Safety Telethon

By Sandy Foster


Darrell Smith has a lot of experience with telethons. For 30 years he was the regional director for the Muscular Dystrophy Association, which raised money every Labor Day through the hugely popular Jerry Lewis Telethons seen by millions of TV viewers who tuned in for live entertainment and contributed millions of dollars to the Association.

This year, Smith will be raising dollars for first responders by organizing the Second Annual Hero Fund Telethon taking place this Patriot Day, September 11, from 6 am to 6:30 pm. KCTV,Channel 5 will broadcast the event live during the news and weather segments from  Molle Toyota’s showroom floor at 601 W. 103rd St. There will be live entertainment and special features on local heroes. 

Smith, along with fellow MDA associates Rick Seithel and Sam Silvio, founded Hero Fund USA, a nonprofit that raises money for first responders and their families.  

“Hero Fund USA officially started in December 2016,” Smith explains. “Rick and Sam  had the idea to fundraise in support of families of First Responders in the aftermath of line of duty death or critical injury. Rick and Sam knew I had fundraising experience having worked for the Muscular Dystrophy Association for years, and they approached me about helping. It wasn’t long before we decided to create Hero Fund USA as a nonprofit.”

“The First Responder’s First Responder” is the motto of Hero Fund. “There are many organizations that raise money when a First Responder is lost in the line of duty,” says Smith. “But we didn’t see anyone raising money to buy safety equipment for these heroes to help keep them safe.”

Hero Fund USA has many fundraising activities throughout the year, such as Golfing Fore Heroes Golf Classic coming up October 7th at Shoal Creek Golf Course, and Dining with Heroes, which is a dinner and auction event being held November 12th at the Olde Mill Emporium in Parkville. 

Hero Fund USA’s inaugural telethon was held on June 14, 2019 at the KCTV5 studio. Photo by Darrell Smith.

Since its inception, Hero Fund USA has raised and donated approximately $250,000 worth of safety equipment for First Responders. The funds go toward equipment such as insulated bunker gear, ballistic and bulletproof vests and helmets, high tech thermal imaging cameras, drones and meters that detect the presence of explosive gas, explains Smith.  “[They] help First Responders stay safe while they keep us safe,” he said. 

In addition to KCTV Channel 5, four other local radio stations will be involved in the telethon. Molle Toyota, along with Santa Fe Towing, is a sponsor of the event. 

“The Molles are great community people,” said Jim Seaman, Molle Toyota Director of Marketing.. “This is a wonderful opportunity for us to partner with Hero Fund USA to secure safety equipment for local First Responders. We jumped at the chance to provide space for this year’s telethon.”

The telethon will be broadcast live throughout the day on KCTV5. For more information, or to donate, visit


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