Cecil Thrush Jr., a volunteer firefighter and first responder with Dickinson County Fire District #1, a firefighter on the Abilene Fire Department and the assistant fire chief with the Enterprise Fire Department, appears in the calendar along with 12 other firefighters from around the state.
Thrush said Janette Froelich, a member of the District #1 auxiliary, encouraged him to submit a photo to the Kansas Firefighter’s Museum, Wichita, sponsor of the first-time calendar, which will be printed in time for holiday giving.
“I thought, what the heck?” he said, adding he was very surprised when he got the call from Nancy Peters of the Kansas Firefighter’s Museum in Wichita, inviting him to compete in judged competition in Wichita in September.
Peters said Thrush was one of 23 firefighters invited to compete in the celebrity event, from which the calendar models were selected. From that group, 11 men and two women were selected to appear on the calendar.
Peters, who volunteers with the Kansas Fire Fighters Museum, said a sagging economy made the idea of producing a calendar more attractive as a means to raise funds for the museum’s Coats for Kids program, to support a planned expansion of the Firefighters Museum, located in Wichita, and to reduce admission price for visiting school groups.
She said donors were generous during fund raising in 2007 and 2008 and hundreds of coats were given away. Donations lagged in 2009, but Peters said the requests for coats did not.
“The school’s told us that the need was still there,” she said.
While she was a bit reluctant to go the pin-up calendar route, Peters said after talking with other state association’s that had had successful calendars, she felt more comfortable with the idea. She said she tried to reach out to as many firefighters and emergency workers as possible and sent information to regular and volunteer departments throughout Kansas.
From those applications, 23 firefighters, 20 men and three women, competed to be on the calendar. She called them a unique group, who not only senjoyed fitness needed to perform their job but also made time to be their involved in their local communities. Each one, she said, impressed her with their “big hearts.”
“Each has brought something special to the table,” she said.
In addition to Thrush, other who will appear in the calendar are Scott VanPatten from the Eldorado Fire Department, Todd Nix, Brad Gregory, Judd Backeen, Michael Beyer, Ricardo Bernal, all from the Sedgwick County Fire Department; Dal Gaines, a reservist with the Wichita/Sedgwick County Fire Department; Bill Templeton from the Johnson County Fire Department; Chad Small from the Chanute Fire Department; Amy Holland from the Mulvane Fire Department; Calvin Brown from the Garden City Fire Department and Kimberly Barnes of the Ford County Fire Department.
Thrush said he was humbled, yet excited, when he was notified in September that he’d made the cut and would be posing for the calendar.
He shot his photos with Wichita photographer Don Birmingham in late September at the District #1 station in Enterprise.
“It’s been fun so far,” he said. “It’s for a good cause.”
Thrush said he hopes to personnally sell 500 calendars to help the cause and said that being selected for the project gives him the opportunity to bring the Coats for Kids program to Dickinson County.
“I will get coats brought up here,” he said. “This area can benefit too.”
Calendars will be available in time for holiday giving. Contact Thrush for advance orders or to make coat requests at (785) 479-7111.
Others are taking calendar orders on Thrushs’ behalf. They include his wife, Tonya Thrush at (785) 479-6873 and Janette Froelich at (785) 200-0756.