The sirens blared, announcing the parade’s presence before it was seen. People on the sidewalk stopped in their path to see what was going on.
And then they appeared.
At least a dozen police officers on motorcycles rumbled into view. Fire truck after fire truck rolled down Middlefield Road in Menlo Park, lights flashing in a glorious tribute to philanthropy.
At about 10 a.m. Thursday morning, the parade stopped at the headquarters, which is located at 300 Middlefield Road, parking on the road to the side of the building. Fire fighters descended from their vehicles in full regalia, eyes cloaked with reflective sunglasses.
This is where I intercepted Redwood City Firefighter James M. Demattei aka “Junior.” According to his trading card, he’s been a Redwood City Firefighter and Paramedic since 2001.
“Today we were driving a relay from Moffett Field to San Francisco, stopping at 16 fire stations on the way," Demattei said. “At each one we collect a check that will go to the Alissa Ann Ruch Burn Foundation’s Champ Camp.”
The camp is designed to enable children with large burns on their bodies to socialize with other children who have also been burned in a regular summer camp setting. Kids ages five to 16 ride horses, climb trees and tell scary camp stories there, as would any child at summer camp, without the fear of ostracization.
“Kids can be rough sometimes,” Demattei said of teasing that goes on in schools.
Whether they create lanyards is unclear.
Menlo Park Division Chief Frank Fraone was inspired to help Champ Camp raise funds in 1988, after taking a class taught by one of the counselors. Every year since then, he’s helped organize events such as this one, which is known as the Alisa Ann Ruch Burn Relay, as well as the annual Pancake Breakfast which will take place in October.
After socializing for a bit at the station, Fraone and Captain Troy Holt presented a check for $12,259.00 to Mike Gonzalez, who is the President of the Board of Directors for Alisa Ann Ruch Burn Foundation. The Peninsula Fire Buff Club also presented a check for $500. Check out the photos to the right of these words to scope the scene.