HOOD RIVER, OR – Friends of the Columbia Gorge today presented Hood River County officials with a check for $46,140 in donations from its members and the public in appreciation of the heroic efforts by the Hood River County Sheriff’s Office Search and Rescue Division to aid hikers threatened by the Eagle Creek fire. Over 150 hikers were trapped at the onset of the wildfire in the Gorge.
"The images of rescued hikers from Eagle Creek being reunited with their families touched many across the nation. The Hood River County Sheriff’s Office Search and Rescue Division was at the forefront of efforts to bring these hikers to safety and the entire region owes these wildfire heroes our deepest gratitude," said Kevin Gorman, executive director of Friends of the Columbia Gorge.
Friends launched the special appeal on Sept. 3 as a way for members of the public to thank the Hood River County Sheriff’s Office Search and Rescue Division–one of the local first responders at the center of aiding the stranded hikers and others threatened at the wildfire's onset. Having raised far more, far faster than expected, the Friends-led drive officially was closed on Sept. 7.
The check presentation was made to Hood River County officials at an Oct. 16 County Board of Commissioners meeting. The presentation was made by Gorman and David Michalek, a Hood River County resident and Friends board member.
"The work of the entire Hood River Sheriff's Office has been outstanding throughout this crisis," said Ron Rivers, chair of the Hood River County Board of Commissioners. "The overwhelming response Friends of the Columbia Gorge received from its public appeal is a tribute to the exceptional work of the Hood River County Sheriff’s Office Search and Rescue Division to keep all in our community–visitors and residents alike–safe."
"As a Gorge resident I couldn't be more proud of how our community came together during the darkest hours of the Eagle Creek wildfire. The work that local search and rescue teams do every day around the Gorge is too often take for granted, and it's an honor to present this small gift of appreciation to these heroes," added David Michalek.
Hood River Sheriff Matt English stated, "I am so grateful for the outpouring of support from the public. The Eagle Creek Fire put a spotlight on our program and the amount of visitors on our trails but Search and Rescue is something that we respond to year round. Responding to these events is extremely resource intensive and puts our searchers in harm’s way every time they hit the trail. These donations will help us enhance their safety and bolster the effectiveness of our response."
In total, the Friends public appeal received gifts from 523 donors. Friends passed along 100 percent of all gifts received in appreciation for the Hood River County Sheriff’s Office Search and Rescue Division, absorbing and donating $3,279 in administrative costs and staff time to administer the gift appeal.
Second photo: Friends board and staff members give thanks to the Hood River County Sheriff's Search and Rescue division. From left: board members/Hood River residents David Michalek and Vince Ready; executive director Kevin Gorman, Sheriff Matt English, Reserve Deputy Bob Stewart and Deputy Chris Guertin. (photographer: Blaine Franger)
News video from KPTV, Portland, Oct. 16, 2017:
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Friends of the Columbia Gorge is a nonprofit organization with over 8,500 members dedicated to protecting and enhancing the scenic, natural, cultural, and recreational resources of the Columbia River Gorge National Scenic Area. Friends maintains offices in Portland, OR as well as in two locations based in the Gorge–-Hood River, OR and Washougal, WA.
The mission of the Hood River County Sheriff’s Office is to consistently earn the public’s trust by providing the highest quality public safety services with the resources provided to us. Learn more: hoodriversheriff.com