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Sun Valley Tour de Force Helps Fund Mental Health Services for First Responders
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Friday, November 3, 2023
 

STORY AND PHOTO BY RON BATEMAN

Sun Valley Tour de Force has donated $25,000 to BCFiRST, Blaine County’s first nonprofit focused on supporting mental health services for the first responder community. 

BCFiRST (Blaine County First Responder Support Team), a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization with a mission “to facilitate wellness tools for Blaine County’s first responders,” provides anonymous free access to trauma/first responder specific counselor services at no cost for first responders and their immediate family members.

“In early 2022 we had a suicide cluster which hit the responder community extremely hard. My husband Tom White, who was a Captain/Paramedic with Wood River Fire and Rescue, was one of those we lost. Although we have had tragedies to the responder community in the past, we have never been hit by so many losses that directly impacted so many agencies locally. It was in the aftermath of these incidents that we decided something had to change,” shared Kelly White, Director, BCFiRST.

There are approximately 200 to 250 first responders in Blaine County, including responders in law enforcement, dispatch, fire, EMS, ski patrol, and certain providers within the St. Luke’s system.  

BCFiRST recognizes that first responders who keep the community safe often face adverse situations that can lead to post traumatic stress injuries and other challenges.

The path back to wellbeing from these incidents is not always straightforward. It is crucial that the local first responders have access to the support and resources they need to continue this important work, anytime, not just after an incident has occurred.

Sun Valley Tour de Force (SVTdF) relies on the support of local law enforcement and first responder partners in order to produce a safe and successful event each July, in which drivers test how fast they can go in sports cars on Highway 75 north of Ketchum.

“When we learned of BCFiRST, it was a unanimous decision by our board to support the new organization, especially in its first year when the group needs a strong financial start. We encourage the community to join us in supporting this crucial service for the folks who look out for our health and safety every day,” said Kevin LaChapelle, President of Intrepid Events Board of Directors.

BCFiRST reports that costs for services will be close to $50,000 for the first year. Between the SVTdF donation, funding from the Blaine County Ambulance District and a significant donation from John and Kerry Van Donge, the organization is close to reaching its funding needs to cover the first year of services.

BCFiRST has a five-person board of directors as well as a three-person advisory board. The majority of board members are either current or retired first responders from local agencies. Current board members are:Kelly White, President; Ron Bateman, Vice-President; Curtis Miller, Treasurer; Justin Highhouse, Secretary; Stacy Ivie, Director; Bryan Carpita, Advisory Board; John Van Donge, Advisory Board, and Taan Robrahn, Advisory Board.

 


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