West Vancouver Firefighter Embraces the Spirit of Giving
Monday, December 01, 2008
West Vancouver, BC: What began as a bucket of soapy water, a few dirty cars, and one Firefighter’s dream has morphed into a spectacularly successful community event – the West Vancouver Fire Department’s annual charity car wash – which celebrated its 20th anniversary of giving to BC Children’s Hospital this year.
It may have been two decades ago, but, for Assistant Chief, Mark Barton – it seems like yesterday that his 14-month old son was rushed to Children’s Hospital after going into respiratory arrest. After being put into a drug-induced coma, Barton’s son, Phillip, was placed on life support. After 14 days he emerged, the cause still undetermined, and with mild cerebral palsy due to oxygen deprivation. Despite this challenge, Phillip has been able to live a normal life, graduating from high school and college in North Vancouver, and now working on the North Shore. But, in Barton’s mind – the outcome could have easily been tragic, adding: “There’s no question, the care he received at Children’s Hospital saved him and contributed to the success of his recovery.”
Shortly after their incident, Barton and his wife Judy knew they wanted to give back. They began to think of ways they could fundraise for the BC Children’s Hospital. The result: The West Vancouver Fire Department Annual Car Wash, which has now raised more than $133,000 over the past 20 years.
The event, held every May at 13th & Bellevue, is run by West Vancouver Firefighters and their families who are happy to pitch in their time for a worthy cause. Local residents feel the same with as many as 600 cars lining up each year - everything from sports cars to tractor-trailers, even people simply walking by seem keen to contribute. The event’s profile has also grown with the addition of community sponsors such as Quizno’s, Subway, The Balloonery, Starbucks, Bread Garden, Handi restaurant, Shaklee products, and others. “Every year, we get residents calling, asking when we’re holding the event. We try to make it a fun day by bringing down our trucks, including the antique models,” says Barton.
Every dollar raised goes directly to the hospital’s wish list from the telethon and is donated through the West Vancouver Firefighters Charitable Society, which was established in 2005 to raise funds for worthwhile recipients. For many years the West Van Firefighters have been one of the telethons larger non-corporate fundraisers.
Adds Barton: “It’s amazing to reach the 20-year mark. I never dreamed it would become this big. The people in the fire service have really stood behind it, and the community response has been overwhelming. We hope to aim for another 20 years or more.”
District of West Vancouver