By Tia Lynn Ivey
Morgan County Fire and Rescue (MCFR) raised $3,000 last Saturday for one of their own volunteer firefighters in need of help with medical expenses for her soon-to-be-born son, who will need heart surgery after his birth in May.
Firefighter and Emergency Medical Technician Danielle Crist took leave from the MCFR after doctors discovered her baby, Bentley, has a defective valve in his heart. But her MCFR “family” is determined to help Crist with the expenses Bentley’s medical condition will incur.
MCFR organized an All-You-Can-Eat Pancake Breakfast and Motorcycle Ride last Saturday to raise money for Danielle and Bentley. About 150 attended the breakfast with 50-plus motorcycle riders cruising through picturesque country roads throughout Morgan County, escorted by the Morgan County Sheriff’s Office. The event raised $3,000 for Danielle and Bentley.
MCFR Chief Jeff Stone was pleased with the turnout for the event and hopes the money will ease Crist’s financial burdens.
“We are the fire department are one big family,” said Stone. “We take care of our own. When somebody is in need, it’s important that we all step up and help with whatever that need is.”
Cindy William, a MCFR administrator helped organize the event for the same reason.
““When Danielle first came to the office and said ‘I need to take a leave because of some things I’ve got going on’, she wasn’t expecting the benefit – she wasn’t expecting this by any means,” said Williams. “We are not related by blood, but we are a family. When one of us needs something, we all step up and help.”
Stone noted how dedicated Crist has been to the MCFR.
““I’ve been here about three years. Danielle started with the department shortly after I came – both her and her brother. As a chief of a department … you see new people come in and think they want to do it, try it for a few months, and then they go away,” Stone told the Morgan County Citizen last month. “In Danielle’s class there were eight (people who finished training) … they’ve all stuck with it very well and have gone on to excel in the past three years. We try to be as professional as we can, and everyone trains as best they can. She and her group have surpassed that normal expectation.”
Crist, who is due to give birth on May 18, announced some good news at the benefit on Saturday–that baby Bentley is continuing to grow and develop despite his heart condition.
“Between three to six months old is when he will have to go in for surgery; he’ll see the cardiologist once a month between birth and when he has the surgery,” Crist explained to the Morgan County Citizen last month. ““(The doctors) said after surgery and after everything heals, there’ll be no restrictions, and he can go on to do pretty much anything,” Crist shared. “I actually found out the last time I was at the doctor’s, out of all of the organs, the heart is probably the number one to have different types of complications. This one they see fairly commonly. Their words were, ‘It’s severe but manageable.’ They are 100 percent confident that they know exactly what they’re looking at and know how to handle it once he gets here.”
Rose Acre Farms donated the eggs for the breakfast. The Angel Ride Organization and Jeepers (Jeep owners) supported the ride.
To donate to Danielle Crist and Baby Bentley, contact the Morgan County Fire Rescue at (706) 343-6503 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.