When a firefighter gets severely injury on the job, it can be a nightmare for the family. If tragedy strikes the Widows, Orphans and Disabled Firefighter’s Fund is there. Every year the charity holds a spectacular fundraiser, the LAFD Invitational charity golf tournament. We caught up with Mollie Vehling at the event. She’s the wife of retired LAFD Captain I, Derek Vehling, who suffered a catastrophic injury on the job, leaving him partially paralyzed. Mollie says she and her family are grateful to all those who give and describes what the charity did for her family when they needed help the most.
A charity of love, hope and inspiration comes to the rescue
The Widows, Orphans & Disabled Firefighter’s Fund provides financial and emotional support for families of LAFD firefighters killed or severely injured in the line of duty. The charity holds the annual golf tournament to raise money for firefighter families. The Vehling family is always there to lend a hand.
Mollie says, “Widows and orphans helped support our family. When my husband suffered a traumatic spinal cord injury back in 2009, they were there immediately to help with any of our needs. We have four young children and at the time they were all under five years of age. And so, from that point on they’ve been supportive and really in any of our needs that we may have needed support, initially financially, and then emotionally, supportive throughout that time through my husband’s healing.”
LAFD Invitational Fundraiser
“We’re just excited to be a part of such a wonderful event with lots of enthusiasm and everyone’s in a good mood. Ready to have a great time,” she says.
Derek Vehling always helps at numerous fundraisers too, “I’m here for the golf invitational, and to be a supporter and a fan. I feel great. It’s something that we do as a family annually and we like to come out and support and help where we can.”
LAFD Captain I Derek Vehling: Recovering with the help from donors
“I had an incomplete spinal cord injury that did not manifest itself fully until a couple of years after the actual incident”, says Derek. “And because of that I was hemiplegic where I’m paralyzed in one leg and partially in my left hand. So that’s the kind of the extent of the injury.” He says it was an uncontrolled release of a door that hit his neck and lower back, shifting his vertebrae into his spinal cord. It caused what he says was a bruise or a contusion of the spinal cord. Derek was confined to a wheelchair and it has taken years for him to get back on his feet.
“The Widows, Orphans and Disabled Firefighter’s Fund helped our family tremendously after my catastrophic injury and it’s our opportunity to give back to reciprocate what they provided for us, the support they gave us in our family and to teach my children that it’s giving back is very important.”