May 2023 Burn Bulletin

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May 2023 Burn Bulletin

Hitting the Slopes in Bear Valley

Over the first weekend in April, we took 26 burn survivor kids on our first ever state-wide ski trip up to Bear Valley (delayed from the original scheduled date due to weather). This was our 25th year going to Bear Valley and we were fortunately able to open this amazing trip to southern California survivors.

The weekend has many dedicated donors who work together to provide the best experience for our young survivors. Thank you to Stockton Firefighters Local 456, Murphys Fire Protection District, Ebbetts Pass Fire Protection District, Bear Valley Skyline Resort, Bear Valley Department of Public Safety, Bear Valley Snowmobile, Arnold Angels, Manteca Firefighters Local 1874, and Santa Clara County Firefighters Local 1165.

We would also like to give a big thank you to our amazing volunteers: Rascal, Alpine, Glow, Lentil, Viper Cannonball, Baby Bear, Cobra, Princess, Skipper, and Rajah, along with staff members, Scott “Scooter” Wertz and McKenzie “Bubbles” Dern! Lastly, major kudos and thank you to Jack Rabbit for coordinating all of the donations and planning this amazing weekend. We loved that we were able to bring a lot of smiles, laughter, and lifelong memories to our kids!

AARBF Spends the Day in Monterey

AARBF has had a long-term crush on the city of Monterey, the Monterey Bay Aquarium (where we have done lots of annual events), and the Monterey Fire Department.

When we gathered on a stunning sunny Saturday in April at the bay’s edge, our firefighter friends from the Monterey Firefighters Community Foundation joined us, presenting us with a generous donation as we redefine and refocus our Monterey Bay recreation event. Our two foundations in partnership have made extraordinary connections in the past and are destined for great things together moving ahead. We are deeply grateful for their support and camaraderie (and for arranging for the sun to come out!).

Honoring a Legacy of Giving

On April 16, an auto show was held in San Mateo in memory of long-time AARBF supporter Carl Asaro (Crazy Car Promotions). In the 22 years of holding his annual auto show, Carl raised nearly $1 million dollars for his favorite charities! We are so very thankful and honored to have been one of Carl’s charities of choice. We were also very excited to see so many members of the San Mateo community turn out for the event. There were over 300 cars registered, a raffle, auction, and food trucks. It was a great event, and we are grateful to have been a part of honoring Carl and his legacy.

Celebrating AARBF Volunteers During VAW

The Alisa Ann Ruch Burn Foundation is honored to work with so many talented and dedicated volunteers. We strive to find ways to show our appreciation in all of our interactions, but one week each year we highlight a select group of volunteers who have gone above and beyond to help further the mission of the foundation. We highlight these volunteers during National Volunteer Appreciation Week (VAW), which was held April 16th – 22nd.

We kicked off VAW with the Fundraising Award, which has been given to the 12 members of the Young Adult Council 2022 Champy-on Team!

The AARBF Young Adult Council has never met a challenge they didn’t like, and Champy-on is an arena where they consistently shine. Getting friends, family, and anyone they can invite into their schemes for fundraising pairs nicely with sarcastic and freewheeling competition (often with Executive Director, Daniel Chacon as the target/foil of their good-natured challenge). In 2022, the Champy-on Champions were again the superstar Young Adult Council team, setting the bar even higher for this year.

The Survivor Services Award goes to…Bob Aymar!

Bob Aymar is one of those volunteers you wish you could clone a hundred times. His empathy as a burn survivor brings comfort to the bedside of patients just beginning their healing journey, and his easy laugh and willingness to always step up lightens every room. On top of it all, his wife and family are with him every step of the way making each interaction a joy…and if you’re not careful, while he’s making you laugh, he’ll sneak a little wisdom in there, too.

The Burn Prevention Award goes to…Ed Comeau!

Ed Comeau’s background includes almost 40 years in the fields of firefighting, fire protection engineering, investigations fire safety, and prevention. Throughout his career, he has made extensive use of writing and communications, which led to him transitioning into grant writing. Ed has been AARBF’s FEMA Grant Writer and Grant Manager since 2016 and has supported AARBF in 3 burn prevention grants: Fire Fighters in Safety Education, The BeSafe Tool, and our current grant, the IMPAC-Tool.  Ed has been a critical resource to the Foundation and the work we do, and we are so excited to present him with this award in Burn Prevention!

The Executive Award goes to…Mike Bradley!

When AARBF secured Mike Bradley as a member of the Board of Directors–bringing all of his financial guidance and clarity–we won the lottery. Mike can simplify complexity to anyone, and he empowers us with the decisions he makes (since he’s always three steps ahead of everyone else), which have always been well thought-out and weighed against options. We are always left confident that the course has been plotted to minimize risk, and all of this is done with a wicked sense of humor and a guiding force to be sure nobody around him panics. Mike brings the gift of ease, and we are truly grateful for him!

The Champy-on Award goes to…Duane “Flash” Holt!

Flash was always a counselor’s counselor at camp. He was mentor, friend, skit-creator-EXTRAORDINAIRE, and fun-loving imp. Whether it was a camp-appropriate version of the funniest SNL skit you can think of, or one he remembered from 30 years prior, Flash always had a skit ready. Bringing props that he and his family had created over the previous year, he would put on a show to remember. These skits were special not only for the campers, but also for the counselors that he made feel like they were part of the Champ Camp family the second they delivered the line that had everyone laughing.

Flash was so often so confident and up for anything, you could almost miss the mischief and quiet good-fun-trouble he could stir up while nobody was watching. He would stay up all night making a friendship bracelet if he thought it would bring his secret pal a smile, which is just one small example of how Flash always put others first. He will always hold a special place in everyone’s heart. He is someone that we think of often, and miss terribly!

The People’s Choice Award goes to…Marissa “Hydra” McCallough!

Marissa “Hydra” McCallough’s love for Champ Camp started many, many years ago as a lifeguard for Champ Camp. Her love for all things camp has grown immensely. There is hardly a time when Hydra doesn’t talk about camp, help with pre-planning at camp, and give 100% while at camp. She carries the camp spirit with her to her current job at CRMC, where she is a burn nurse and also helps lead their support group and aftercare, linking countless burn survivors to the foundation and camp.

Hydra is one of those people you know you can count on to always be there with an open heart, hands ready to work, and a smile that can brighten anyone’s day. She really is the epitome of our People’s Choice Award. We love Hydra and the joy and passion that she brings into the foundation!

We save the final day of VAW for our highest honor: the Ruch Family Circle Award. The 2023 Ruch Family Circle Award goes to…Debra Reed!

Each year, the Woody & Louise Reed “Bridge to Life Scholarship” provides for burn survivors and their family members who have been involved with AARBF and need financial aid to pursue an education after high school–including trade school, community college and university. Through the years, it has been an honor and a privilege to have a member of the Reed Family–Debra Reed–serving on the scholarship selection committee. Debra’s beloved husband, Ted, was the brother of Woody Reed, and they were committed to creating this legacy for the Reed family. Debra has been a relentless proponent for increasing support for burn survivors year after year. Her goal was to make a significant impact in the lives of burn survivors seeking higher education. Thank you, Debra, for helping to provide our survivors with the foundation for a brighter future!

Dinner with Colma Firefighters

This year’s Colma Chicken and Polenta Dinner, on April 22nd, had a special energy from start to finish. The community turned out in support, creating a constant stream of hungry people anxious to try the delicious polenta, chicken, sausage, salad, and garlic bread! The Colma firefighters and volunteers brought it all, including big smiles and fun conversation. Those who attended were treated to a dinner in the apparatus bay of the fire station, with firefighters serving them like fine dining waiters, offering each attendee an escort to their table. It is exciting to see how close this community is, and we are so thankful for the years of support from them through this very popular annual event.

N.I.C.K. Joined Sirens of Silence in Pomona

The amazing community event on April 29th that was a “Special Day with First Responders” was called “Sirens of Silence,” but there was no way to quiet the laughter and fun being had by hundreds on a sunny Saturday in Pomona. AARBF joined many other organizations that were all dedicated to autism and special needs awareness and acceptance. The spirit of sharing understanding and learning with so many families in a sensory-friendly environment was inspiring and gratifying. We had so many questions and great conversations about our N.I.C.K. for Fire and Burn Safety program, as well as all the prevention materials and messages that AARBF specializes in sharing. It was a truly great day put on by our friends from LA County Fire, and the best news is it will happen again at the Westside Regional Center in Culver City on the morning of May 20th!

AARBF Announced Ways to Support Champ Camp in April

Is Your Chili the Best of the Best?

The annual Champ Camp Chili Cook-Off is returning to Wonder Valley on Wednesday, June 14th. This contest is open to our local Firefighter Associations and Community Partners. Join us for a full day of fun at Champ Camp where our campers will name one lucky team the best of the best and award them with the coveted “Champy Award”.

Sign up today at:

For questions, please contact McKenzie “Bubbles” Dern at

Volunteer for the Champ Camp Carnival

We are hosting a carnival at Champ Camp on June 13th from 3:00pm to 9:00pm and are looking for volunteers (must be 18 years or older) to help run the booths and games. This is a great opportunity for someone who wishes they could volunteer at Champ Camp, but who are unable to carve a full week out of their schedule.

Register today at:

If you have any questions regarding the Champ Camp Carnival, please contact McKenzie “Bubbles” Dern at

Send a Child to Camp

Have you registered for the Champy-on fundraising challenge? This year’s goal is $38,000, in honor of the 38 years of Champ Camp! Fundraising has already begun and will run through June 10th. Thanks to supporters and participants like you, we were able to send over 50 kids to camp in 2022. Help us do it again this year!

Participating is easy! Visit our Champy-on website at to register as an individual, form a team, or simply donate. We thank you and appreciate your support of AARBF and Champ Camp!

Assistance Needed with the Arts and Crafts Wish List

Each year we create an Amazon wish list filled with supplies needed for our arts and crafts activities for camp. We have a few items still needed on this year’s list and appreciate our supporters who have taken the time to share this list with their family and friends, as well as those who have made a purchase. We are so grateful that you are helping to provide a creative outlet for the kiddos!

If you would like to help, please share the link on your social media, or make a purchase today.

If you have any questions, please contact McKenzie “Bubbles” Dern at

AARBF Helps Burn Survivors Attend World Burn Congress

Are you interested in attending the 2023 Phoenix World Burn Congress 2023 (WBC)? AARBF offers a Phoenix World Burn Congress Scholarship which provides financial assistance to cover costs for registration to participate in the WBC.

This year’s event will be on October 4-7 at the Gaylord National Resort & Convention Center in National Harbor, Maryland. To learn more about this event and to register, please visit:

To learn more about the financial assistance available for WBC and to apply, please visit:

Educational Scholarships Available from AARBF

Attention Trade School, Junior College, and College Students (or those planning to be enrolled in the 2023/2024 academic year)!

Now is the time to apply for the AARBF “Bridge to Life” Scholarship offered by the Woody and Louise Reed family to support burn survivors and their family members pursuing higher education.

For those traveling even farther down the academic road, toward a Master’s degree or PhD, be sure to apply for the “Aiming Higher” scholarship to help support your academic pursuits. The same link and application (Bridge to Life) are used for Aiming Higher, and you can possibly be eligible and awarded BOTH scholarships.

Fill out your application today:

For questions regarding these two scholarships, please email us at

Volunteer Opportunties:

Please check with your regional office for more information on upcoming volunteer opportunities.

For Northern California, please contact Scott “Scooter” Wertz at or 415-495-7223 Ext. 19

For Central California, please contact McKenzie “Bubbles” Dern at or 559-286-0710 Ext. 15

For Southern California, please contact Margarita “Cubby” Rodriguez at or 818-848-0223 Ext. 16

Upcoming Events:

May 22: Champ Camp Camper Applications Close

May 29: Memorial Day, ALL AARBF Offices Closed


June 1: (7:00pm – 8:30pm), Caregiver Online Support Group, contact Scott “Scooter” Wertz at or 415-495-7223 Ext. 190 to register and receive further information.

June 4: (1:30pm – 3:30pm), SoCal Survivors Support Group, contact Scott “Scooter” Wertz at or 415-495-7223 Ext. 190 to register and receive further information.

June 6: (7:00pm – 8:30pm), Santa Clara Valley Medical Support Group, contact Scott “Scooter” Wertz at or 415-495-7223 Ext. 190 to register and receive further information.

June 7: (6:30pm – 8:00pm), North Bay Support Group, contact Scott “Scooter” Wertz at or 415-495-7223 Ext. 190 to register and receive further information.

June 8: (7:00pm – 8:30pm), Burn Care Professionals Online Support Group contact Scott “Scooter” Wertz at or 415-495-7223 Ext. 190 to register and receive further information.

June 10-17: Champ Camp

June 13: (6:30pm – 8:00pm), Fresno Community Regional Medical Center Support Group, contact Scott “Scooter” Wertz at or 415-495-7223 Ext. 190 to register and receive further information.

June 14: (6:30pm – 8:00pm), East Bay Burn Support Group, contact Scott “Scooter” Wertz at or 415-495-7223 Ext. 190 to register and receive further information.

June 15: (7:00pm – 8:30pm), Statewide Online Support Group, contact Scott “Scooter” Wertz at or 415-495-7223 Ext. 190 to register and receive further information.

June 20: (6:00pm – 7:30pm), Spanish-Speaking Online Burn Survivor Support Group, contact Scott “Scooter” Wertz at or 415-495-7223 Ext. 190 to register and receive further information.

June 29: (11:30am – 1:00pm), Saint Francis Support Group, contact Scott “Scooter” Wertz at or 415-495-7223 Ext. 190 to register and receive further information.

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