Participants in the annual Wildfire Awareness Half Marathon and 5K Runs in Washoe and Clark counties raised more than $15,000 for the Wildland Firefighter Foundation. The races, hosted by University of Nevada Cooperative Extension's Living With Fire Program, in partnership with the Bureau of Land Management, Nevada State Parks and Desert Sky Adventures, were part of Nevada Wildfire Awareness Month in May.
"When I went to the Reno run and saw the number of people who came out to support the firefighters, I was overwhelmed with gratitude," said Vicki Minor, executive director for the foundation. "We deal with such sorrow, with firefighters burned and disfigured, and some who don't come home to their families. This event was such a happy time. It was really a community, heart-warming event."
The Wildland Firefighter Foundation is a nonprofit organization that provides assistance to fallen firefighters' families and to firefighters injured in the line of duty. The proceeds of the race will help families travel to see firefighters who were injured while aiding another state; help the families of firefighters unable to work because they're still healing; and help the families of firefighters killed while working.
Participants ran through some of Nevada's most infamous wildfire fuels, such as big sagebrush, bitterbrush, cheatgrass and rabbitbrush. There were also displays of educational information, fire engines and a visit from Smokey Bear.
"Teaching people how to prepare their homes and prevent firefighters from risking their lives is important," Minor said.
The northern race was held in Washoe Lake State Park, and the southern race was held in the Red Rock Canyon National Conservation Area.
"Both locations took runners past scars left by previous fires, including ones from 2006 and 2014," said Cooperative Extension Marketing Specialist Sonya Sistare, who co-manages the Living With Fire Program with Natural Resources Specialist Ed Smith.
Wildfire Awareness Month is a collaborative effort by local, state and federal firefighting agencies, University of Nevada Cooperative Extension and many others. The event promoted this year's wildfire awareness message, "Improve Your Odds - Prepare for Wildfire," encouraging residents to take action now to prepare their homes and properties to increase their likelihood of surviving future wildfires.
Extension's Living With Fire Program, which began in 1997, teaches homeowners how to live more safely with the wildfire threat. The program has received numerous national awards, and been credited with spurring actions that have saved many homes. For more information about Living With Fire, visit www.LivingWithFire.info, or contact Sistare at University of Nevada Cooperative Extension, email@example.com or 775-336-0271.