By Bill Bates
NEWS Correspondent & Committee Member
The Heroes To Hero Foundation, Inc. recently presented three $1,000.00 scholarships to graduating seniors from three area high schools for academic excellence as well as community involvement. The scholarships are awarded in honor and memory of Tommy Stewart III, Jim Sylvester, and John West Sr. and the selfless dedication they gave to their respective departments and community's they so faithfully served.
Another check (not pictured) was also presented to the Camden County Hero Scholarship Fund, Inc. (www.camdencountyhero.com) in the amount of $5,000.00 to be used towards college educations for children of permanently disabled or deceased firefighters, police officers, and emergency medical personnel from Camden County.
2007 HEROES TO HERO SCHOLARSHIP WINNERS - From Left to Right are Heroes To Hero Committee Treasurer Wayne Hughes, Mount Ephraim Mayor Joe Wolk, Gloucester City High School Senior Kyle Kramer, Gloucester Catholic High School Senior Matthew Orlando, Former Camden County Freeholder Tom Gurick, Audubon High School Senior Joanna Halliburton, Gloucester City Mayor Bill James, Heroes To Hero Committee member Anne Marie Smith, and Gloucester City Councilman Nick Marchese.
The Heroes to Hero 5-K Run/Walk held its first race on Saturday, October 26, 2002. The event was organized in July of 2002 by one of the brother firefighters from Gloucester City Fire Department, a Gloucester City Police Officer and a local civic leader. The three avid runners decided to remember and honor the lives and careers of three very brave men. On July 04, 2002, Firefighter Thomas Stewart III of the Gloucester City Fire Headquarter, Chief James Sylvester of the Mount Ephraim Fire Department and Deputy Fire Marshal John West Sr. of the Camden County Fire Marshal's Office all died tragically while attempting to save the lives of three trapped little girls in a house fire. All six had perished.
PROUD RECIPIENT - GCFD Lt. Jerry Hubbs shakes hands with Gloucester City High School Senior Kyle Kramer as Mount Ephraim Police Corporal Wayne Hughes - Retired and the Heroes To Hero Committee Treasurer, prepares to present Kyle with his check. Committee Member Anne Marie Smith looks on.
The three man committee had quickly grown to five, then seven and presently has 13 members and nearly 200 volunteers who participate on race day! The help doesn't stop there. Along with the Gloucester City and Mount Ephraim Fire Departments, six other fire departments send crews to assist with aerial ladder displays along the race route each year. Volunteers from various civic organizations assist with food and beverage service, runner's assistance, registration, flagman at corners and local ambulances help provide emergency medical services. The event is not just a 5-K Run/Walk, it is a day of remembrance and celebration that begins the night before the race and continues throughout race day with an awards ceremony followed by a block party.
Participants meet in Gloucester City and are bused to the start line in Mount Ephraim. From there, participants run or walk back to Gloucester City where they left their vehicles. The Heroes to Hero motto is "Retracing our Fallen Brothers Footsteps". The race has a very sentimental significance. It begins at the Mount Ephraim Fire Department and proceeds to finish at the Gloucester City Fire Department, passing by the homes of the three fallen heroes and retracing the paths that each one took that night when they got up out of their beds to help someone that they had never even met before.
The Heroes to Hero 5-K has grown to be one the biggest, fastest, most complete 5-K events in the tri-state area. The event has drawn past Olympians, world class runners from Morocco, Russia, Kenya, Trinidad, and Canada. They have had participants from California, Georgia, Oregon and many "closer to home" states. The record breaking times compare to some of the fastest 5-k street races in the United States. [Men 14:08, Women 16:08].
Last year the event registered 1000 participants and awarded over $8000 in cash and prizes! It is a fun filled day with live music and Dj's at six different locations throughout the race and the food is outstanding! [Pasta party, soft pretzels, cakes and crackers, and plenty of beverage for every age].
Most importantly, all of the efforts mentioned above are for one reason; to remember the character and bravery of Tommy, Jim and John. Three awesome men who made an incredible impact on their profession as well as their communities. As long as the Heroes to Hero Foundation is around, their sacrifice will be remembered forever!
This years' race will be held on Saturday, October 13, 2007 starting at 9 a.m. SHARP! The last bus will leave GCFD at 8:30 a.m. For more information about the race or the scholarship program, please visit www.heroestohero.com or you may contact the Race Director at 856-456-4637 if you would like to help in any way.