The annual tribute to hero firefighter Jimmy D’heron is a celebration of his life—and his sacrificing of it to save fifteen people he did not even know. Except for some appropriate moments during the festivities, the Harvest Moon Brewpub in New Brunswick is decidedly not a place of quiet reflection during this event. From the familiar strains of the Middlesex County Fife and Drum Corps coming through the gloaming, to Corps Leader Mike Campbell’s stirring introduction, to the pub noise that usually accompanies a packed house for a good cause, quiet is just not on the agenda.
But for five minutes yesterday, you could have heard a pin drop as a trailer for an upcoming movie about burn victims was shown. The name of the film, which will be released for free, is Trial by Fire: Lives Re-forged and it’s the brainchild of Megan Smith-Harris and her husband Bill. Megan and Bill are allied with Erin Varga, Jimmy D’s “firecracker” daughter, who spearheads a plethora of events and causes in her father’s memory. One of those causes is raising money for the Art Luf Children’s Burn Camp, and a big portion of the proceeds from yesterday’s sale of Jimmy D’s Firehouse Red Ale—brewed especially in Jimmy D’s memory—goes to that camp, as well as to the burn center in St. Barnabas. Year round, fifty cents of every Jimmy D's pint goes to The Cause as well. And anyone who sees that trailer will understand why, and why this event has donated more than $80,000 to the cause.
Fire does not discriminate. An equal-opportunity marauder, it will kill or, perhaps even worse, permanently disfigure anyone, regardless of race, creed, nationality, social status, political party or gender. Many burn victims not only have to suffer through the excruciating pain of treatment and recovery, they often face incredible hurdles in the area of social stigma after they are “healed.” Because fire marks you forever.
And that realization became apparent to everyone who stood in rapt silence to see the living victims of fire tell their stories. Fortunately, the film also gave the audience a way to help and to get the message out. You can see the trailer and read the message here.
Fifteen people are alive today—and not scarred-- because Jimmy D sacrificed his life in the line of duty eight years ago. It’s the same sacrifice all firefighters are prepared to make every time they put on the gear and get on the rig.
That’s why Frank Kropf’s place was packed yesterday. And there isn’t a better reason to raise a glass.
What’s even better is knowing that you’re draining it—and refilling it-- for a good cause.
Look for pics up on the right-hand side, and an interview with Harvest Moon Owner Frank Kropf is on YouTube here.