Kettering fraternity fundraising for firefighters’ mental health

Students from Kettering University are fundraising all week to support the health of both past and present Flint firefighters.
Published: May. 15, 2023 at 5:12 PM EDT
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FLINT, Mich. (WNEM) - Students from Kettering University are fundraising all week to support the health of both past and present Flint firefighters.

In previous years, the Pi Kappa Alpha fraternity at Kettering would raise funds for new tools or equipment, but this year’s funds are being raised to support the mental health of these everyday heroes.

“Going to school here in Flint, you know, we’re in the city and we’re around the entire environment. So, it’s great to be able to help the community and help it grow and see an impact,” said Hunter Miller, a senior at Kettering University and the organizer of the Fireman’s Challenge fundraiser.

The fundraiser kicked off on Monday, May 15.

“We have a week long of events involving a band night, a volleyball tournament, hose rolling event, and we’re cooking food all day here at school,” Miller said.

The Fireman’s Challenge is a weeklong philanthropic tournament that benefits Flint Firefighters by spreading awareness and raising money for the department.

“They’ve done this for the last few years. They’ve created funding for us that we wouldn’t normally have in order for us to provide things that we needed but weren’t necessarily in the budget. So, they’re able to provide those things for us,” said Christian Perkins, the safety training officer for the Flint Fire Department.

Miller said he is proud to be a part of Pi Kappa Alpha and grateful to be in a position to give back.

“Being able to support them and give them what they need is what we love to do,” he said.

Perkins said he is glad to see that money raised this year will go towards providing mental health support.

Flint firefighters say being a firefighter is taxing on mental health, so Kettering students are raising money to help.

“To bring in counselors. And we really appreciate that because we’ve had a rough few years as far as losses of firefighters,” Perkins said.

According to Perkins, two Flint firefighters have died by suicide over the last four years. He said being a firefighter is taxing on mental health.

“It’s multi-layered stresses. They’re the stresses that come from being awakened or being called from nowhere, and then you have to respond to it. And you go into instant adrenaline rush,” Perkins said. “You arrive on scene and you try to reconcile the emergency as best you can.”

He said the stress can build.

“It’s just compounded over time of not really either dealing with the stress, or not having a way to decompress from the stress,” Perkins said.

On Monday, it was all smiles for firefighters in attendance at the Fireman’s Challenge, but when times may not be so good, Perkins said he wants them to reach out for help.

“Don’t take it on on your own. Talk to someone. Talked to a loved one. Talk to a co-worker. Speak to our employee assistance program. Just don’t hold it in. Find somewhere that you can express yourself and possibly find the source of the pain,” Perkins said.

For information on how to donate, click here.

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