December 2020 Burn Bulletin

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December 2020 Burn Bulletin

AARBF Wants Your Story!

The day after Christmas, December 26, 2006, Shannon and Amanda Collins, along with 11 of their family members, were gathered for the holidays at their grandparents’ house. The house was in the midst of remodeling projects, so all of the smoke alarms were removed. A space heater, which would later be determined as the cause of the fire, was turned on in the living room. Around 4:00am, their grandfather smelled smoke and began waking the rest of his family to evacuate the house…

Tina “Skittles” Martinez was only 15 months old in 1982 when she was in a house fire started by a faulty electrical outlet. It quickly fueled a fire that engulfed her home. Tina was in her crib, as flames surrounded her, when her father came to her rescue. While he saved his tiny daughter, he lost his own life as a result of smoke inhalation. Tina sustained 3rd degree burns over 80% of her body, burns that for many would prove fatal, but this tiny girl was, and is a real survivor…

“I woke up in an inferno in my room and after trying to alert roommates to the situation I succumbed to the smoke and heat and passed out, my last thought being that, this is it I guess.” Robert Strawder recounted the night a fire ripped through his home, just weeks before the holiday season. Robert suffered burns over 75% of his body and has spent years on his journey of recovery- physically, mentally and emotionally…

It was Memorial Day weekend in 1970, when the Ruch Family- Diane and Ernie Ruch, along with their children Ethan (10), Alisa Ann (8), David (5)- were celebrating with a small family gathering. Diane, who was pregnant at the time with her fourth child, and her sister Esther were in the kitchen preparing lunch, while Ernie and the children were in the backyard getting the barbeque grill ready. Ernie attempted to light the barbeque grill, with David and Alisa Ann close behind him, when a fireball erupted, shooting Ernie backwards onto David and Alisa Ann. All three caught on fire. Ethan, witnessing what had just happened, pushed his little brother David to the ground and rolled him around, smothering the flames…

These are just a few of the stories we have shared over the past several years. Next year marks the 50th Anniversary of the Alisa Ann Ruch Burn Foundation. In celebration of this anniversary, we are working on putting together a commemorative coffee table book that will include 50 stories….YOUR stories! These will be stories from burn survivors, volunteers, firefighters, nurses, educators, donors, family members, friends…everyone who has made AARBF what it is today!

You can submit your story here:

Please be sure to provide as much detail as possible in your responses. We will try our best to capture the essence of you in this book!

If your story is selected for our 50th Anniversary Coffee Table Book, you will be asked to participate in a professional photo shoot scheduled for March/April 2021. More details to come.


Feel free to contact Jennifer Radics-Johnson, Executive Director, at or (818)848-0223 ext. 12 with any questions or concerns.

Please note: Space is limited in the book, and unfortunately not all stories will be featured. Your story may be used for AARBF’s website, social media pages, newsletters and other public and promotional documents and media.

AARP Live Chat with AARBF

On November 4, AARP California’s Flora Haus hosted a Facebook and YouTube Live Chat with AARBF’s Jennifer Radics-Johnson. Jennifer spoke about the foundation’s work and steps you can take to prevent burns, particularly if you are a caregiver caring for an older adult. We appreciated the opportunity to speak on such an important subject especially during November which is National Family Caregivers Month! A recording of this chat is available online at

Recently we introduced a new program, SPARC, designed specifically for older adults. You can view an introductory video about SPARC as well as download other prevention materials at

Get Creative with Sunflower

On November 12, we broke out our painting supplies and followed along as our wonderful volunteer, Kelly “Sunflower” Dern, led us in a step-by-step watercolor painting workshop creating sunflowers! Everyone had a great time and their flowers were beautiful.

It was so great to have survivors, their families and our staff members all involved. We appreciate Sunflower for giving her time, her talent and the generous donation of paintbrushes.

If you missed this Paint Night, no need to worry! A recording is available on our website at

Visit our Multimedia Resource Library to view more of our “Get Creative” videos at

AARBF Presents Burn Prevention and Fire Safety Workshop

On November 17 and 28, the Safer California Virtual Conference 2020 was held. AARBF’s Jennifer Radics-Johnson and Daniel Chacon were honored to present the Burn Prevention and Fire Safety Workshop. The workshop included: how and why burn issues are one of the leading causes of unintentional injury issues for children, resources to support burn prevention programs and projects, and resources that provide mental health treatment and support, including life skills and peer to peer support for child and youth burn survivors. Our panel of speakers included: Dr. Jeanne Lee, Director of University of San Diego Burn Center, Dr. David Greenhalgh, Chief of Burns at Shriners Hospitals for Children — Northern California and Chief of the Burn Division, Department of Surgery, for the University of California, Davis School of Medicine, and James Bosch, Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist, providing Child, Adolescent, Adult, and Couples Psychotherapy.

In addition to the workshop, Jennifer and Daniel also hosted a Chat session with AARBF’s Erika Mendoza, in which she discussed her journey as a burn survivor and how it set her on the path to burn survivor supportive services and burn prevention education.

Erika has a long history with AARBF. She first became involved with AARBF at the tender age of five after a burn injury that covered 40% of her body. She participated in a number of burn survivor events with the organization for nearly 20 years, including Champ Camp, becoming a Counselor in Training, a Champ Camp Counselor, and a member of the AARBF’s Council of Advisors. Erika became a staff member of AARBF in 2018 and is currently our Resource Development Manager. Thank you, Erika for sharing your story!

You’re Not Alone with AARBF’s Peer Support

The holidays are typically a time for togetherness and cheer, but for some the holidays can be a time of loneliness or sadness. AARBF’s Peer Support Program matches burn survivors with other burn survivors, to listen, to share…to care.

Currently all of our support groups are virtual allowing you to find a group that works with your schedule. To see the full list of groups available, visit the Events calendar on our website at or the Events tab on our Facebook page.

Don’t forget, if you’re feeling a little stressed these days, visit our Multimedia Resource Library for great videos on yoga, breathing techniques, learning a new craft and managing anxiety. We have something for everyone at

AARBF Offers a Holiday Relief Fund

We know that these have been hard times, and that asking for help is never easy. But we are committed to supporting burn survivors and their families. AARBF has created a special fund for burn survivors to get the help they need this holiday season. An application is available at Deadline for submission is December 18.

If you have any questions, please contact Daniel Chacon at (415) 495-7223 x18 or

Upcoming Events:


January 5: (7:00pm – 8:30pm), Santa Clara Valley Medical Online Support Group, contact Scott “Scooter” Wertz at or 415-495-7223 x19 to receive log-in information.

January 6: (6:00pm – 7:00pm), Yoga for Burn Survivors, contact McKenzie “Bubbles” Dern at or 559-286-0710 ext. 15.

January 6: (6:30pm – 8:00pm), East Bay Burn Online Support Group, this group has now been combined with the Santa Rosa Support Group. Contact Scott “Scooter” Wertz at or 415-495-7223 x19 to receive log-in information.

January 7: (7:00pm – 8:30pm), Family and Caregiver Online Support Group, contact Daniel “Apollo” Chacon at 415-495-7223 x 18 or to receive log-in information.

January 10: (1:30pm – 3:30pm), SoCal Survivors Online Support Group, contact Margarita “Cubby” Rodriguez at or 818-848-0223 Ext. 16 to receive log-in information.

January 12: (6:00pm-7:30pm), Fresno Community Regional Medical Center Online Support Group, contact McKenzie “Bubbles” Dern at or 559-286-0710 ext. 15 to receive log-in information.

January 13: (6:30pm – 8:00pm), Santa Rosa Online Support Group, contact Scott “Scooter” Wertz at or 415-495-7223 x19 to receive log-in information.

January 14: (7:00pm – 8:30pm), Burn Care Professionals Support Group, contact Daniel “Apollo” Chacon at 415-495-7223 x 18 or to receive log-in information.

January 19: Spanish-Speaking Online Burn Survivor Support Group, contact Margarita “Cubby” Rodriguez at or 818-848-0223 Ext. 16 to receive log-in information.

January 21: (7:00pm – 8:30pm), Online Video Burn Survivor Support Group, contact Daniel “Apollo” Chacon at 415-495-7223 x 18 or to receive log-in information.

January 28: (11:30am – 1:00pm), Saint Francis Online Support Group, contact Scott “Scooter” Wertz at or 415-495-7223 x19 to receive log-in information.

If you missed any of our past Burn Bulletins, please check out our archives.

Just a reminder to go to; click on Upcoming Events, for the latest AARBF events and activities that need your support.