By Jill Draper
New threats and a need for new technologies to deal with them are the main reason for the First Responders Safety Telethon being hosted by Molle Toyota on Thursday, September 9. This year, Missouri Governor Mike Parson will make an appearance at 11 a.m. at the showroom, 601 W. 103rd St., followed by Tim Bean, Missouri Fire Marshall, and Matt Leutkemeyer, Missouri Fire Mutual Aid Coordinator.
This third annual event is organized by Hero Fund USA and raises money for safety equipment for law enforcement, firefighters and emergency medical services personnel. The telethon is partnering with FOX 4 TV, which will broadcast live interviews, special feature stories and presentations by sponsors throughout the day.
“First responders just can’t budget for everything they need,” says Darrell Smith, CEO of the nonprofit Hero Fund USA. “There are always things they don’t have money for, and that’s the gap we stand in.”
Last year’s event raised $24,000 for items like new ballistic helmets and face shields, drones, safety partitions in patrol cars and canine leashes, muzzles and harnesses. This year Smith hopes to provide even more money for state-of-the-art safety equipment as well as financial support for the families of critically or fatally injured first responders.
The event runs from 6:30 a.m. to 6:30 p.m. with volunteers staffing a six-line phone bank for call-in donations.
Other guests that morning will be area police and firefighter leaders. The live interviews will stop at 12:30 p.m. and then return at 5 p.m. with Brad Lemon of the KCPD Canine Unit, followed by Donna Lake, KCFD chief, at 6 p.m.
Pre-recorded interviews with additional first responders such as Chad Daly, KCFD fire captain, also will be shown.
Hero Fund USA is headquartered in Blue Springs, Mo. Since its beginning in 2016, the organization has raised $250,000 for first responders, Smith says. For more information see herofundusa.org.