It takes a certain mindset and mentally strong individual to continually put their life on the line for others. Our first responders are often put in life-threatening situations involving active crime scenes, dangerous medical emergencies or home, business and wildland fires. These brave men and women always respond when called upon and, unfortunately, not every call ends with everyone going home safe and sound. Sadly our communities have seen their share of life-altering injuries and, in some cases, the ultimate sacrifice. While there are programs in place to help first responders and their families during these hardships and times of loss, members of our community see a greater need and continue to step up to honor and provide for those who put their community above themselves.
The Kootenai County Memorial Foundation (KCMF) was created in 2005 by a group of retired Los Angeles police officers who had come to call Kootenai County home. Officer Michael Kralicek was recovering from a gunshot wound to the face he received while responding to a situation in Hayden. “As he began his long road to recovery, Idaho workers’ compensation insurance was denying essential services for his rehabilitation,” recalled founding member Addison A. “Bud” Arce. Along with three others, Bud created the foundation to provide financial grants to Kootenai County first responders and their families who experience unforeseen catastrophic circumstances including death, illness and injury.
More than a decade later, the Kootenai County Memorial Foundation has seen its impact on the community continue to grow as neighbors look to do what they can to help provide for law enforcement and first responder families.
The KCMF board is comprised of 15 community members and an advisory committee. Each of these members is a volunteer and no one is compensated for their time, ensuring that the maximum amount of funds raised directly benefits local families.
When a request for assistance is received, a follow-up investigation is conducted. The findings are presented to the board of directors in executive session. That decision is only discussed with the board of directors and the person(s) making the request. If a financial award is made the recipient is not required to repay the Foundation.
“All requests are strictly confidential; only discussed between the Foundation and the person making the financial request,” said Bud.
One of the biggest impacts KCMF has been able to provide is educational scholarships for the families of first responders. Since 2010, the foundation has awarded 16 scholarships to dependents of first responders totaling $27,000. This is on top of the 20 awards totaling $54,000 the foundation has made to our local police, fire and medical personnel.
While donations are accepted anytime throughout the year, the foundation holds several larger fundraisers including its always popular annual indoor charity ride. Friday, March 2, marks the 10th time for the event, which is held at local supporter PEAK Health and Wellness. This year’s ride will be held at the Post Falls’ location. Community members are encouraged to put together a team of 10 to 12 riders in order to keep someone peddling for the entirety of the 12-hour indoor ride. Riders can donate to the Memorial fund themselves or ask for donations from family, friends and coworkers. KCMF is also taking donations for a silent auction during the event and is looking for additional corporate sponsorship partners.
The ride itself isn’t just sitting in a dimly lit room and peddling for hours on end; there will be plenty of entertainment for those on the bike and those waiting their turn. The event kicks off at noon with an RPM class hosted by PEAK instructors. Several more of these will follow throughout the day. In between there will be a corn-hole tournament and a saran-wrap game (you’ll just have to find out for yourself). The event is family friendly until 7pm, when beer and trivia takes place as well as a scavenger hunt and late-night karaoke. There will be prizes awarded throughout the day culminating at midnight with the crowning of the karaoke champion and the end of the ride.
While the Kootenai County Memorial Fund will take any and all donations, participating teams are encouraged to meet or exceed a donation rate of $45 per half hour of riding. You’ll be amazed at how many miles a group can cover in 12 hours and also what fun you can have in support of those who sacrifice so much to keep our community safe and strong. Registration is currently open and available at FirstRespondersMemorial.org. You can also contact the organizers directly: Heath Wiltse at Peak Health & Wellness at 208.773.0601 or thepeakid.com, or Bud Arce of the Kootenai County Police and Fire Memorial Foundation at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Those not able to attend can still stop by to drop off a donation and show their support. You can also follow the foundation on social media for live updates during the event.
Our first responders put their lives on the line each time they step out their front door. When one of these brave men or women or their families suffer from a loss or injury, it’s the community’s duty to step up and help those who sacrificed for us. Assemble your team, have a fun Friday and honor those who serve your community at the annual Kootenai County Memorial Foundation Indoor Charity Ride.