Local firefighter receives national heroism award

Local hero wins, "The Red Bandana Hero Award".

MINNEAPOLIS - September 11th is a day of remembrance as we look back on the tragedy that took place on this day back in 2001.

During that tragic day, a man known as "The Man in the Red Bandana" saved as many as 12 people following the attacks on the World Trade Center. That man, Welles Crowther, lost his life that day. Now 14 years later an award inspired by Crowther is being given to a former Minneapolis firefighter.

Jake LaFerriere is the first to receive "The Red Bandana Hero Award" for his heroism. He knows all too well what the brave kids at HCMC's burn unit go through on a daily basis.

"I spent a month and a half of in-patient here, 12 surgeries, I've been up to at this point," said LaFerriere.

"When a burn patient goes through this they're never the same... they have changed," said LaFerriere.

It was during his hospital stay he met young burn survivors like William Verner. You may remember we shared William's story back in June. He fell into a fire pit and severely burned more than half of his body.

"What he's going to need is on-going reconstruction as he gets older," said Dr. Jon Gayken, HCMC Burn Unit Surgeon. "We'll be taking care of William well into his early teens."

William, now a few months into his hospital stay, is just one of the many burn victims who receives assistance from Firefighters for Healing, a non-profit Jake started more than 5 years ago after being inspired by young burn survivors.

"Every day is a constant reminder of how I know what these guys are going through, because my hands continuously hurt every day and they get worse, they deteriorate, and so then that pain charges me up to think about these guys at an emotional level or a physical level, to try to assist them through this difficult time to reassure them it will get better," said LaFerriere.

No longer able to fight fires, Jake now puts all his time and energy into helping the lives of those impacted by devastating fires.

Today the organization has raised more than $100,000 and donated 100 percent of the proceeds to local burn units, and to help burn survivors and their families.

"I think we are just starting to understand the magnitude of all this and all the good we're doing and the lives we are touching," said LaFerriere. "It really takes a village to do what we want to do, we need the support and everyone else to help us on our mission and to be able to save lives."

Firefighters for Healing is hosting their first ever Red Tie Gala at The Exchange Club Saturday, November 7th at 7pm. All proceeds will go to the survivors and families of Twin Cities burn victims. For tickets click here!


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