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Firefighters’ Quest Aids Burn Survivors

As a red fire engine pulled into 11 stations Monday throughout Orange County, its sirens and lights signaled hope for burn survivors.

The engine was part of a caravan on a mission to raise money to help burn patients and their families. Firefighters Quest for Burn Survivors, a nonprofit organization, brought its cause to Orange County for the first time.

The caravan, designed to garner donations from fire, medical, law enforcement agencies and businesses, raised about $5,500 from firefighter associations in Orange County. Most of the money will go to the Orange County Burn Assn.

Throughout the week, caravan members will continue their quest in five other counties, said Tom Propst, the group’s executive director and a Glendale firefighter.

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Last year, the group raised about $42,000 from agencies in Los Angeles and Ventura counties. About $70,000 in donations is expected under the expanded campaign.

Quest collects donations, but donors decide where the money will go: to a burn center, burn survivors or related organization.

Among those traveling with the caravan is Cheryl Bess, 29, a South County resident who was 15 when she was kidnapped and attacked with sulfuric acid, leaving her burned and blind. “I just wanted to show my support for firemen and their families and raise awareness to help burn victims,” she said.

Glendale firefighter Bill Jensen, 54, also a caravan participant, was severely burned over 73% of his body in the 1996 Malibu wildfire, prompting his fellow firefighters to found the Quest organization.

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Jensen has undergone 24 surgeries and needs about a dozen more to treat his left hand and arm.

Jensen said the fund-raiser is important because it helps raise money for advances in treatment: “The new technology is why I’m alive here today. I’m very lucky.”

Donations may be sent to 1146 N. Central Ave., No. 398, Glendale, CA 91202-2506. Information: (800) 404-7972.


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