Raising money for a cause that’s hard to argue with

Published 10:51 am Monday, September 19, 2016

Local residents came together on Saturday to celebrate Port Arthur firefighters and to raise money for their children.

The first annual fundraiser for the Willie A. Ryman III Memorial Scholarship was held in Mid County Chrysler Dodge Jeep Ram featuring food, games, vendors, live music and a scheduled competition between fire stations.

“The idea came about when we were bowling next to some firefighters,” Shannon Quinn, chief organizer of the event, said of her and her husband. “We crossed paths and asked about events they were doing.”

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Quinn explained that the idea took off and was soon aided by others in the community, such as Alex Parker of Mid County Jeep Ram who has experience in fundraising.

“If we’re going to do a benefit, it’s going to benefit somebody,” Quinn said.

“We’re raising money for the children of firefighters. Our goal is $10,000.”

Quinn stated that the money could be used for higher education schools from two-year vocational institutions to four-year universities.

Quinn was not alone in helping raise funds for children of firefighters.

“Our credit union loves to get involved locally,” Sabrina Miguez, CEO for Port Arthur Federal Credit Union, said. “And the firefighters and police department are such big parts of the community.”

Miguez said the firefighters had been talking about forming such an event for a while.

“The credit union already sales t-shirts for them, so when the [firefighters] called about a scholarship fundraiser, I was there,” Miguez said with a laugh.

When asked what she hoped would be the main takeaway from the fundraising event, Miguez answered,

“I want the brotherhood back. I want the brotherhood between the firefighters and the community to where it was before.”

Fellow attendees expressed similar views.

“I just came to support the local scholarship fund,” Mercer Nessour of the Port Arthur Fire Department said. “I hope they raise enough money to kick off the first scholarship fund to help children of first responders.”

“It was named after Willie Ryman, who was killed protecting his nieces in ’98,” Darrell Gonzales, firefighter for the PAFD, said. “We definitely support anything with his name in it.”

Gonzales thought that the fundraiser was a positive experience for all involved.

“It felt good — it’s always good to do something to help our kids out,” Gonzales said. “It also feels good to know that the community is behind us.

“Everyone likes firefighters. We’re here to help everyone.”

The scholarship named in Ryman’s honor was something that his brother, Barry Ryman, thought highly of.

“I think it’s a real testament to what he meant to Port Arthur and his fellow firefighters,” Barry said in regards to his brother. “It’s an honor. I think he’d probably be real proud of it.”