Just last week in Albany, GA, an event took place that highlights how devastating burn injuries can be, especially to children. But it also gave burn survivors hope for their future, and the knowledge that people care about their recovery, both physical and mental.
Because many people who get burned can't afford the doctors bills to help them recover as best as they can, the Albany Fire Department partnered with area businesses outside their local Sam's Club to raise money for those victims. Dozens of kids got to enjoy races, games, music, and even free tours of the aerial truck.
But aside from all this fun is a more important message for those families who came just to be a part of the fundraiser and show support, even if they do not know a victim of severe burns. These folks also got to learn about how to make their homes and offices safe from fire, and how to plan an escape route at home and at work from fire and especially from often-deadly smoke inhalation when a fire does begin.
The fire department raised $2,500 last year, and 90 percent of the funds go towards the Georgia Firefighters Burn Foundation. The other 10 percent will teach kids fire safety. Assistant Fire Chief Sebon Burns says Albany, a mid-sized town, sees its share of burn victims. "The problems are many for people who get burned," he said. "You have physical and mental scars, both of which cause pain. So we're trying to raise money to ease the stress level for the burn victims and their families."
Dennis Gardin, who was a burn victim as a teenager, says the Georgia Firefighters Burn Foundation is in dire need of funding. He wants to make sure burn victims have the proper support and funding. "I was burned and directly benefited from the services of the fire department," said Gardin. "As a kid, there were no services like the burn foundation for me or my family."
The burn foundation also uses this money to bring kids to a summer camp to connect with other young burn victims. And firefighters volunteer their time at the camp too.
In the midwestern part of the country, another burn victim is doing something else that is very effective in helping burn victims. In 2008, Stephanie "NieNie" Nielson was in a plane crash that burned more than 80 percent of her body. Prior to the crash, her blog, called nieniedialogues.blogspot.com, was a popular read among mothers and, now, it is a source of inspiration for millions of people worldwide--and not just burn victims. In fact, she was featured on the ABC news show "20/20" just this month.
Just three years after her accident, NieNie is still very much on the mend. Slow but steady, this devoted mother of four has a lifetime of surgeries ahead of her--and a growing circle of friends behind her.
A few weeks ago, she spoke in front of a large audience at a midwestern church during a special women's conference. She talked about how not just her doctors and her family but also her faith in God and prayer and her love for music have sustained her through some very tough times.
Try to visit NieNie's blog a few times to read about her ups and downs as she goes through her recovery from third-degree burns.