Fire News Article, 2011 (R Covey)
In case you haven’t noticed, Fire Chief Greg Van Tighem from Jasper is on a mission, some say he is obsessed, some say he is simply a pain in the ass. Whatever your thoughts are, one thing is for sure he is certainly committed, maybe even obsessed with raising crazy amounts of money for the MS Society to help End MS.
When Jaspers Fire Chief Greg VanTighem puts his mind to something, he’s going to do it. Meaning, if he has to get dressed up in a bikini and wash a few dozen cars, sort through 50 plus bags of mouldy, smelly beer and pop cans, host a dozen or so barbecue’s, organize a few farmers markets, cater a banquet or two or send out a couple of hundred e-mails to people like you and me (you get the point) to reach his annual fundraising goal for the MS Society, consider it done.
This year, GVT single handledly raised a whopping $ 34,000.00 for MS and during the past five years, over $115,000.00 pretty big stuff, but we at the Fire News couldn’t help asking our fearless, shirtless leader this question: “Say Chief, its admiral and all, but what’s with your obsessive, insane dedication to raising piles of money for this charity? It’s kind of consuming, don’t you think? ”Luckily for us he laughed, admitting that his goals keep getting loftier and he tends to get carried away at times. But the constant bar-raising is something that the fire chief is used to, it’s in his nature and it’s something that to him, feels right. “It’s grown on me,” GVT said, admitting that his passion has taken hold of him in a big way.
“It started about six years ago when I met a friend of my brothers in Yellowknife, a fellow fire fighter and an amazing individual; who had MS.” I didn’t have a clue what MS was but over the space of a few years as I witnessed him battling through this terrible sickness I gained a real understanding of the horrible disease and new respect for people living and dealing with debilitating conditions on a daily basis”. The one thing that stuck with Van Tighem throughout this time was the firefighter’s positive outlook and positive attitude, despite his ever worsening condition, to the point where he was dependent on a wheel chair and a full-time personal aid.
Unfortunately he passed away in August of 2008.
It’s in his memory and the dedication to the many other people with MS he has met since as Top Fundraiser, MS Ambassador and Volunteer, that Van Tighem maintains the commitment which is at the heart of his MS fundraising mission. “I do it because MS is a terrible condition, people inflicted with MS start life just like you and me, until they receive the horrible diagnosis. I do it because researchers are at the cusp of finding a cure and they need funding to continue, I do it because the people living and dealing with MS every single day require support and resources to ease their pain and suffering.
The MS Society provides the research, resources and services and with the financial support of everyday people like you and me, fundraisers like Chief Van Tighem are helping to fund the cure.
But wait; there’s another element at play here, too: the Hinton MS Bike Tour, which takes place in September and marks the end of the annual fundraising campaign, it’s the mechanism behind all this fundraising and it’s a ton of fun. Training for that ride keeps the chief in shape and recruiting and motivating fellow riders to join the Jasper FD Rockhopper MS Bike Team keeps him out of the fire hall occasionally. (We should mention that the Rockhoppers are recruiting; all you need is bike and big heart.)
The Hinton MS Bike tour is no cake walk it’s an up and down bumpy two day, 90 km backcountry mountain bike event that goes rain, snow or shine. The Rockhoppers continually finish at the top of the heap and have been top fundraising team for four of their five years. This year the tours over 300 riders raise a whopping $450,000. for the MS Society.
If you would like to support Chief Van Tighem or the Jasper FD Rockhoppers in their mission to help End MS simply check them out at: http://www.msbiketours.ca