Fire Foundation seeks funds to help local firefighter

The Ventura Fire Foundation has launched a crowdfunding campaign in support of recently retired Fire Captain John Van Mannekes.

Van Mannekes was diagnosed with ALS, more commonly known as Lou Gehrig’s Disease, in July 2016. He retired from the Ventura City Fire Department last month due to his illness.

After 21 years as a Ventura City Firefighter, John is no longer able to do the job he loves to do.

The Ventura Fire Foundation is sponsoring a crowdfunding campaign to help raise money to support John and his family. With the mounting medical bills due to his ALS diagnosis and with treatments, which are primarily experimental and not covered by medical insurance, his medical bills are multiplying.

Throughout his career, John helped countless members of our Ventura community. It’s now our turn to help John and his family including his wife Rebecca and two teenage sons, Johnny and Jamie.

Being a firefighter has meant the world to John, although the journey getting there wasn’t easy. After becoming a fire explorer, where he realized his calling was to a life in the fire service, John tested with over 40 fire departments across California, some more than once. He put himself through the fire academy, then paramedic school. Finally, in July of 1996, after a year working with a private ambulance company, he received the offer he’d been hoping for: Ventura City Fire Department.

Almost as soon as his probation ended, John became a relief driver. He earned his certification as a Fire Officer. He went to HAZMAT school. After only four years as a firefighter-paramedic, John received a promotion to Engineer Fireman. And then, even more quickly, he earned the title of Fire Captain – a position John held in Ventura for over 14 years.

“ As a Fire Captain, you lead by example,” John says. “You are in charge of and responsible for the engineer and the fireman at the station on that shift. You kind of set the tone… It’s a lot more responsibility.”

It is now our responsibility to set the tone and support John, his wife, and his sons through this difficult time. You can ease the significant financial burden of his care. You can give access to essential therapies to delay his symptoms and buy precious time as critical research evolves. You can change lives, the same way John changed lives throughout his firefighting career.

The Ventura Fire Foundation was established in 2014 to enhance the lives of our community members and enhance local charity and community activism within the Ventura Community. We are also focused on establishing a healthy benevolent fund to be used during times of crisis when one of our members becomes ill or injured in the line of duty.

Donations can be made by going to venturafirefoundation.org.

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