Fundraiser Saturday in Follansbee to benefit three firefighters, families
FOLLANSBEE — A fundraiser event from noon to 6 p.m. on Saturday at the Hooverson Heights Fire Department at 116 May Road, Follansbee, will benefit three local firefighters and their families.
Proceeds from the spaghetti dinner, 50-50 drawing and Chinese auction will be split three ways to help the family of the late Brian Ritchie, Greg Salkovich and Rusty Morris, according to organizer Kathy Younciak.
The meals are $10 each and are available for take-out. Whether planning to eat in or take out, supporters are encouraged to call or text (304) 280-2802 in advance.
Ritchie, 50, was a lieutenant and 13-year member of the Weirton Fire Department and assistant chief of the Hooverson Heights Volunteer Fire Department, where he had been a member for 29 years. He died Feb. 2 at Ruby Memorial Hospital in Morgantown following a lengthy battle with COVID-19 contracted while on work duty with the Weirton Fire Department.
Younciak explained that Salkovick, a volunteer fireman at the HHVFD for the past 34 years, had a major medical issue occur while on vacation and continues to suffer with major medical issues. “Greg has a long road ahead of him,” she noted.
Morris, a volunteer at the HHVFD for the last 14 years, is undergoing treatment for cancer. He has a wife and three small children.
The spaghetti dinner is $10 and includes spaghetti, meatball, salad and bread. Drinks will be available for purchase. Patrons can dine in or get takeout. COVID-19 safety guidelines will be enforced.
There also will be a 50-50 drawing and a variety of Chinese auction items and baskets.
“There are many, many items and baskets that already have been donated,” Younciak said. “The way this community has stepped up to help has been amazing. The entire Tri-State Area has become very involved. There have been a lot of personal and business donations.”
For information or to make donations, contact Younciak at (304) 280-2802.
“I have lived on Hooverson Heights my entire life,” Younciak said in explaining her involvement in the benefit. “My youngest son, Shawn, recently became a volunteer at the Hooverson Heights Volunteer Fire Department. He is friends with, volunteers with and is a student at Brooke High School with Caleb Ritchie,” she said. Caleb’s father was Brian Ritchie.
“As the stories of each fireman became more open to the public I just wanted to do something to help each of them and their families with any type of financial issues they are bearing at this time,” she said. “It is a very difficult time for all. After Shawn joined the fire department, I really began to realize what these volunteers mean to the community, and I’ll be honest — it’s the first time I realized what they do with really not a lot of recognition. Sometimes it actually looks like a thankless job, but where would we be without them. They are called as first responders to medical calls prior to the ambulance arriving, motor vehicle accidents, actual fires and then assisting or covering when other departments are on calls.
“These are amazing volunteers,” she said.