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Since the U. S. First Responders Association is based in Panama City, this disaster was very personal. I am in Texas but several USFRA volunteer staff (including our CEO Fyre Walker), many members, and their loved ones were impacted personally and professionally by the storm.
Jägermeister wanted to do something to support and thank first responders and generously donated over 400 backpacks along with $25,000 to USFRA for the First Responder Thank You event held December 11, 2018 at the Bay County Sheriff’s Office in Lynn Haven, Florida.
We initially wanted to get backpacks assembled in the Panama City area by Thanksgiving with a gift card, a custom t-shirt, my (and Bill’s) preparedness book, maybe a dinner, etc., but logistics dictated otherwise.
Because Panama City and surrounding communities like Lynn Haven, Springfield, Callaway, Mexico Beach and others were so devastated by the almost Category 5 hurricane (and some tornadoes), there was no place to have items shipped to, assembled and stored.
So Bill and I had everything shipped to Texas so we could bring backpacks to Florida in our motorhome.
The plan was to meet a few people from Jägermeister at BCSO for some photos, then hand out backpacks to the first 400 Panama City area first responders and gift bags to first 15 K9s that stopped by.
The #850STRONG t-shirts turned out great………
And the 2-sided thank you cards printed very nicely………
Then 400+ backpacks each included a shirt, a $50 Walmart gift card, our preparedness book, a 2-sided thank you note, a discount on VetCare’s pet wound care products, and Allergan’s donated REFRESH eye gel..….
We also got 15 KONG toys and VetCare kindly donated 15 2-oz tubes of QuickDerm for each K-9 bag……
Due to Bill’s health issues (including beating leukemia) we haven’t traveled in 3 years so we took multiple days to drive the 1,500+ mile trip.
The day of the event was so rewarding, humbling and fun meeting hundreds of city and county Fire/EMS, EOC and Law Enforcement (including dispatch) personnel, as well as several state Highway Patrol officers.
Unfortunately the 2 gentlemen from Jägermeister flying in from New York and Miami got delayed in Charlotte due to a mechanical issue so we started the event without them. After 4 attempts to fix the plane sadly the airline cancelled the only flight to Panama City so Armin and Danny had to scramble to get back home from NC.
I have never been on live camera before so was a bit nervous during interviews, but it was beautiful chaos as Bill, Fyre and I distributed backpacks to Florida first responders and bags to some K-9s. And we were able to get some shots of the $25,000 donation from Jägermeister used for the 400+ $50 Walmart gift cards, t-shirts, and other goodies in their donated backpacks.
Here are some scenes from the Dec 11, 2018 MJUS-USFRA First Responder Thank you event in Panama City, Florida …….
I don’t mean for this post to sound like it was about us (since it is not), but Bill and I wanted to share a little background about this collaborative First Responder appreciation event involving Jägermeister, USFRA, Fedhealth, VetCare, Allergan, RushOrderTees.com and others.
We also would like to thank Sheriff Ford, Ruth Corley, Lt. Tochterman, Major Stanford and others from Bay County Sheriff’s Office for their assistance and support, as well as allowing us to hold this event at their facility.
And finally we hope this post reminds people to please keep the Florida panhandle (as well as Georgia, North and South Carolina, and California) in your thoughts and prayers as they continue to recover from Mother Nature’s fury and rebuild their lives and communities.
On behalf of USFRA, thank you Mast-Jägermeister for your generous donation and support for Panama City area first responders, and we look forward to working more with MJUS in 2019 and beyond.
Stay safe, j (& B)
Janet Liebsch - USFRA EVP and Disaster Specialist