Luke Sheehy was a smokejumper. Every day, he waited for an alarm to beckon him into another wildfire. Then, in an instant, it was all over. While fighting deep in the backcountry, a burning tree branch fell and took Sheehy’s life when he was only 28 years old. The loss caused great heartache within the wildland firefighting community and, of course, devastated his family. But they weren’t left alone to deal with their pain and the pressures that come with loss. An organization called the Wildland Firefighter Foundation (WFF) stepped up to help where they could.
Vicki and Burk Minor founded the WFF in 1999 to help families like the Sheehys. The Minors’ work not only to memorialize those lost fighting wildfires; they also offer therapeutic and economic support to the families of the fallen. The WFF lends a vital helping hand because, according to Burk Minor, “when that firefighter goes down, the rent doesn’t stop. Groceries don’t stop. None of that stops.”
With the help of the WFF, Luke Sheehy’s family is able to celebrate their son’s life through a dedicated memorial and at charity events that aim to help other families who have also experienced loss. Together, they’re bolstering a community and letting firefighters know that if they don’t make it out of the fire, someone will be there to help their families wherever and however they can.
To learn more about the WFF and the families they support with the foundation’s help, check out the first episode of Warriors Of The West. And check out the series page for additional episodes.
Coors Banquet is in its sixth year of supporting the Wildland Firefighter Foundation, donating over $1.5 million dollars to the foundation. Click the donate button on this page if you’d like to help protect our west by supporting the WFF.