The CrossFit fitness community is preparing to show the power of unity, compassion and effectively being one’s “brother’s keeper.” Athletes and enthusiasts who are associated with the popular exercise movement are stepping up to help the families of the 19 firefighters who perished earlier this summer while battling a wildfire in Yarnell, Ariz.
Tragedy struck on June 30 when members of the Granite Mountain Hotshots team lost their lives while attempting to temper out-of-control flames. TheBlaze reported on their personal stories, including that 14 of the men were in their 20s.
Nearly two months later, some of the firefighters’ families are fighting for full financial benefits from the local government — something they may never be granted, as 13 of the fallen heroes were not full-time employees at the time of their deaths.
While the government is exploring whether some of the deceased firefighters were actually promised full-time work and are therefore entitled to benefits, CrossFit enthusiasts are coming together to fill in the gaps and to bring in funds that will help the families survive and care for their children and loved ones.
Here’s more about the lives that were lost and the initiative that’s been launched to help out:
Many of the Hotshots firefighters were avid members of the CrossFit community and regularly trained at Captain CrossFit, a local center in Prescott. A workout event will be held in their honor at that location on Aug. 31.
Rich Froning, the man who holds the “Fittest Man on Earth” title, will lead the workout and to help build awareness (TheBlaze profiled Froning earlier this summer and later caught up with him following his third “Fittest Man” title win).
If people can’t make it out for the event on Saturday, CrossFit is encouraging supporters to host their own local workouts with the same goal — raising money for the families. And for those who simply wish to donate to the cause, they can do so on a special website setup to honor the Granite Mountain Hotshots firefighting team.
CrossFit has additional details about the 19 lives that were lost:
As stated, officials in Prescott, Ariz., are examining the situation surrounding benefits in an effort to see if any of the 13 who were not considered full-time are entitled to increased funds. Some family members claim their spouses and sons were entitled to these benefits, as they had recently been promoted.
“That status — whether each man was classified as a permanent or seasonal worker — is the key factor in benefits paid to their survivors after 19 members of the crew died June 30 while fighting the Yarnell Hill Fire,” AZCentral.com explained earlier this month. “Families of the six permanent members are eligible for benefits that could be worth millions of dollars more than those allotted to the other 13.”
AZCentral.com has more about the financial cost that agreeing to pay full benefits to the other 13 families would pose:
All families are to receive a one-time payment of $328,613 from a federal fund and other financial and tuition benefits.
But only six firefighters’ survivors receive health insurance, a lump-sum life-insurance payment and monthly lifetime survivor benefits. The survivor benefits are paid from the state Public Safety Personnel Retirement System; city officials have said the temporary workers did not contribute to that fund.
The city estimated that providing equivalent benefits for the eligible survivors of the other 13 would cost about $32 million over the next 60 years, based on the anticipated lifespan of survivors. The city’s annual budget is $30 million.
Others too have pitched in to help these families. Glenn Beck donated $50,000 to the firefighter’s families. Both locally and across the country initiates have been launched to help these grieving families. CrossFit’s upcoming event is one of the many that will help these families survive in the wake of immense tragedy.
Russ Greene from CrossFit HQ joined us on Friday’s BlazeCast with Editor-in-Chief Scott Baker to talk about the CrossFit effort to support the families of the Arizona Hotshots: