Willie Ryman Scholarship announced, fundraiser set for Sept. 17

Published 11:30 am Monday, August 29, 2016

An annual fundraiser to benefit children of Port Arthur firefighters with higher education has been formed.

A fundraiser for the Willie A. Ryman III Memorial Scholarship is scheduled for 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. Saturday, Sept. 17 at Mid County Dodge Jeep Ram, 8181 Memorial Blvd.

The event will feature live entertainment, food, vendors, an auction and a competition between fire stations, Shannon Quinn with Nash Rankin Insurance Agency said.

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The idea for the fundraiser came after she and her husband were bowling next to a group of current and retired firefighters. They struck up a conversation and the idea blossomed from there, she said.

Soon, Quinn was in touch with Alex Parker at the MCDJR who is familiar with hosting fundraisers and benefits, and the event was set.

Port Arthur Fire Capt. Perry Manuel said the fundraiser will have some good-hearted competition between fire stations.

“There will be a ladder climb relay,” Manuel said. “Teams will go up the ladder, get a flag at the top and come down.”

This won’t be a household ladder but a fire truck ladder.

A few other games are in the planning stages and dependent on scheduling at the event.

Ciara Dixon, one of Ryman’s family members, said she recently heard of the event and scholarship fund.

“We are very excited about it,” Dixon said, calling the new scholarship awesome and something Ryman would have wanted.

The scholarship is named after Willie A. Ryman III, a firefighter who died saving his nieces from an attacker in 1998.

Manuel said the department’s highest honor during annual awards is the Willie A. Ryman Medal of Valor.

“You have to do something extraordinary, save someone’s life, to get the award,” Manuel said. “The award has only been given three to four times in the past 10 years.”

The organization behind the scholarship will be nonprofit and likely have a three-member board overseeing it. Other details are still in the works, Manuel said.

Anyone who wants to help with the fundraiser by donating auction items worth $50 or more or other items can contact Quinn at 727-4020.