Why It Matters

“My father’s passing was the worst single event of my entire life, but I feel now that I have the chance to turn it into something very positive. After seeing the impact my father had on so many people’s lives, I am now inspired to have that same positive impact on people in my life… I have since become a nationally registered EMT and am currently only two classes away from my Associate of Arts degree in Fire Technology. I plan to attend paramedic school on August of 2010.” – Brian Long, son of Russell Oddis Long, Santa Cruz City Fire Department

“My dad’s memory has made me realize what I want to do with my life… I feel that my dad still had things to accomplish and people to help in the fire service and I want to carry on his legacy. My dad’s memory is the reason for me going to the City College of San Francisco and earning my fire science degree… This is my plan because of my dad. I know this is exactly what he would want of me and make him most proud. That is truly all I want, to do something that would have made him proud of me. I want to honor his memory in any way I can.” – Mitchell Long, son of Russell Oddis Long, Santa Cruz City Fire Department

“He would be so proud knowing his little girl attended college… Plus, I would be the first and only one in our entire family to go to college. I want to be a school teacher. I know he would be so proud. I would also like to write a children’s book in his memory, about losing a parent at a young age and how to handle it.” – Heather Yonan, daughter of Daniel Philip Yonan, Burbank Fire Department

“My father’s memory has implications for my life every day. I seek to follow his example of service, love, humor, and commitment in my life and with the people whom I come in contact with. His memory means that I have chosen a profession where I am able to protect and serve those who need a helping hand. My father’s memory also means that I have a responsibility to teach my children one day what a man of integrity their grandfather way and how they can carry on his tradition and life even they will not know him this side of heaven.” – Amanda Long, daughter of Daniel Earl Elkins, Los Angeles Fire Department

“My father’s memory represents the most influential part of my life. His memory encourages me to be happy and successful. The memory of him also makes me want to be a better person and one day be as good of a father as he was. His memory also gives me strength and hope… The memory of my father also makes me want to be the best firefighter that I can possible be. He once told me that, “A good firefighter lets his actions speak and walks in humility.” This is a quote that I will live by for the rest of my life.” – Ty R. Zollner, son of Bryan K. Zollner, CAL FIRE

“I take my father’s example of public service to heart. I too want to live a life with purpose. I plan to major in psychology. My goal is to be able to be of service to those in need, mentally and emotionally. In this way, I hope to honor the memory of my father and the hard work and dedication of my parents. I look forward to the challenges that await me, confident that my life experiences and what I’ve learned from them have made me the strong person I am today.” – Jessica Reiner, daughter of Eric F. Reiner, Los Angeles City Fire Department

“I can’t express in words the respect, honor, and love I hold for my father. He saved and impacted so many lives. He has inspired me to pursue a career in nursing, to I, too can impact others lives just as my father had. He will never truly die because his spirit lives on through my sister and me.” – Gabriella T. Vanni, daughter of David E. Vanni, Contra Costa County

“I am lucky to have found my true calling in life. I want to help people, to follow in my dad’s footsteps, to do whatever I can to make a difference in someone else’s life. That is why I want to be an emergency room physician. I can be the one to save someone else’s father, to give him the opportunity to see his daughter graduate from high school, to walk his little girl down the aisle. I can be the one to save her from the pain and suffering I have gone through in the past few years.” – Nicole Herman, daughter of Steven Herman, Los Angeles County Fire Department

“My Dad was a loving, hardworking, and determined man with an honest and heroic heart. My father’s testimony is not just an inspiration in my life; it is also an example to others of how to live theirs. As I continue on into a new stage of life, it is one of my goals to excel in my pursuit of higher education as well as high athletic achievement. In doing so, I also hope to imprint the poignant influence that my dad had on me, upon the lives of others, and through this difficulty to honor him and his heroic legacy.” – Benjamin V. Ortega, son of Robert M. Ortega, Los Angeles City Fire Department

“The way that my dad went about being a firefighter is one of the main reasons I want to be a firefighter in the near future. If I could have anything right now, it would be to tell him that I just passed EMT class and am on my way to becoming a full-time firefighter.” – Tyler J. Nunes, son of John William Nunes, Contra Costa County Fire Department

“Higher education was one of the areas my father hoped I wouldn’t follow his example. When he was around my age, he dropped out of college. And though he found success elsewhere and eventually did earn his degree, he always wished he had continued on with school when he first had the chance. We talked comprehensively on this matter all throughout my young adulthood, and with more frequency in the months surrounding my move to college. My scholastic determination is grounded in the reverence my dad had for a college education. It is because of him that I know the true value of committed academic work.” – Colleen A. Smith, daughter of Richard “Chip” Smith, Ontario Fire Department

“One thing for sure is that life doesn’t always go how it’s ideally planned and cannot always be understood. I refuse to let obstacles hold me back. My dad always said, “There is more than one road to your dreams.” These words and the image of my dad fighting with everything he had left in him will always stick with me, and these are the exact memories that inspire me to do my best and never give up.” – Alyssa R. Moore, daughter of Matthew Moore, Murrieta Fire Department

“Throughout the years, my family and I have been shown the love and support of everyone who worked with [my father]. The fire department is a family, and they take care of their own. Whether by carrying his casket at the funeral, supporting us through rough times, or even providing scholarships so that both my sister and I were able to attend and thrive in college, the support of firefighters and their families has been a blessing.” – Kaylee M. Wells, daughter of Emmett Wells, Orange County Fire Authority