Anyone who knows me knows that I am a huge fan of Chip and Joanna Gaines. In September of 2018, Chip had a contest called #Chipstarter where he would help financially support people’s dreams. I originally thought to myself, “I wonder if they would help pay for an extractor for the station my dad used to work at.” As I looked back on the past year’s winners, I realized the capacity of help in which I could ask for. My original idea grew and evolved into a goal bigger than I had ever set for myself. I had sprouted the idea to start a nonprofit foundation to help continuously fund the purchase of extractors for all of the firemen my dad had taught across the United States and Canada.
The contest required a video explaining your dream to Chip and Joanna and the reasoning behind your dream. We called up a couple of our favorite firemen and asked for a little help. It seemed like practically overnight they had gotten everything in line to shoot a video. The shift at Station 35 was recruited to stand with me in front of the rig as I pitched my idea to the camera. By the end of it was on their shoulders surrounded by clapping and cheers.
There were a couple weeks of anticipation and then I found out that I, unfortunately, wasn’t a finalist. I have to admit I was a little disappointed. Not only was I not able to meet two people who I idolized for the way they inspired me, not only to pursue Interior Design but also just to do good in the world, but I also felt like my dream wasn’t worth chasing after. Was it really even possible? After a short period of time feeling discouraged, I realized that maybe I could do this no matter what.
Around the same time I learned I wasn’t a finalist, I was in Colorado for the National Fallen Firefighter Memorial where my dad, as well as over 200 more firemen and women, were being honored for death in the line of duty. As I looked around in the crowd I realized that there was a handful of people wearing shirts that read “Byrne Out Cancer.” In that moment I realized I had the motivation and support I needed to push forward in creating this foundation. With the help of my mom, my family, and close friends, we were able to get everything in line to be officially approved as a registered nonprofit.
Throughout this entire journey it’s been heavy on my heart why it takes a 17 year old who lost her father, to do something about the growing number of firefighters we are losing to cancer. I truly could not stay motivated or positive enough to hold up the task of running the foundation without my firefighter family and my family by blood who believe in me every day. I truly feel blessed that God had entrusted me with the task of helping to save the men who run towards danger to save us.
If you would like to watch the contest video click here https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XTIrmnHnWw0&t=23s