The Manawa Rural Fire Department has been a part of the local Relay for Life for the past three years.
In 2013 they began doing the Firefighters Mile.
“The Firefighter Mile is an idea that came about at last year’s event,” said Josh Smith, MRFD assistant fire chief. “I was talking about doing something special for our then assistant fire chief Wally Rasmussen.”
Rasmussen was unable to attend the event due to his own battle with cancer.
“Wally had been battling cancer for a few years. He was the one, along with his wife Nancy, who had started the Manawa Fire Department Relay Team three years ago,” said Smith. “Last year he asked me if I would be willing to be a part of the planning committee, to which I agreed, along with Mike Miller and Krystal Draeger.”
“Mike and I had discussed walking one mile in full turnout gear (fire gear) in honor of Wally,” said Smith. “After a little more discussion it was decided that is what we were going to do.”
Smith posted the event on Facebook four days prior to the event last year.
“I invited any other firefighter who might be interested in walking,” said Smith. “In only four days there were 33 firefighters in turnout gear. Other firefighters and their families walked with us as well.”
Smith is hoping for an even bigger turn out this year.
“Other fire departments that come and walk are encouraged to let me know if they have someone they might be walking for,” said Smith. “For Manawa’s fire department, this is in memory of our previous assistant chief Wally Rasmussen.”
Sadly, Rasmussen lost his battle in July of 2013.
“The term ‘brotherhood of firefighters’ is used a lot,” said Smith. “By getting firefighters from different departments it reinforces the idea of family. It just shows that we not only fight on the fire ground together, but we stand together in whatever challenges face us every day.”
This year’s event is from 5-11 p.m. June 6 at the Waupaca High School.