All of Delaware was shaken by the loss of four firefighters last year.
On July 11, Tim McClanahan, a Lewes firefighter, died during a joint training exercise with the Delaware State Police Air Rescue Team. Two months later, on Sept. 24, two Wilmington firefighters, Capt. Christopher Leach and Lt. Jerry Fickes, lost their lives battling a rowhouse fire in the city. Two of their comrades, Ardythe Hope and Brad Speakman, were critically injured in the blaze. On Dec. 1, Hope succumbed to her injuries.
Those fallen heroes were honored later that month through the joint efforts of the state’s two NCAA Division II rivals — Wilmington University and Goldey-Beacom College.
WilmU’s men’s and women’s
basketball teams partnered with the Goldey-Beacom squads and held collections during all their December games, sold t-shirts, and conducted other charitable events to help raise money for the firefighters’ families.
Headed by Wilmington University Women’s Coach Rob Miller, the four teams were able to reach their goal of $5,000 and they presented a check to the Wilmington Firefighters Association between games of the doubleheader at the WilmU Athletics Complex on Dec. 18.
Firefighters from the departments performed a ceremonial opening tip-off and posed for pictures with the teams’ captains and Goldey-Beacom President
Dr. Gary Wirt and Wilmington University Executive Vice President Dr. LaVerne Harmon.
The charity games were “the right thing to do, to help, to give back” to the families of those who have given so much, especially in the weeks before what was no doubt a difficult Christmas for them, said Miller. “First responders are the people we call in an emergency, and they come running,” he said.
“It’s the biggest game of the season and it’s a big rivalry,” Miller added. “But while Wilmington and Goldey-Beacom may be rivals on the floor, this is bigger than all of us.” WU