Hoedown to Help Myakka Firefighters in Florida

Tena Whaley isn't a firefighter, but her efforts will buy gear and equipment that could help save lives.

Whaley is helping organize a spring hoedown to raise funds for the Myakka Firefighters' Association.

Her family boasts five generations of Myakkans, and Whaley feels a deep sense of community commitment - it's also no coincidence that her daughter spent nine years as a lieutenant in the department.

"I just enjoy doing stuff like this - getting involved and helping people for a good cause," she said, "and this is a good cause."

The Myakka City Fire District is governed by a fire board, but commissioners are appointed by the County Commission.

Firefighters and paramedics respond to more than 500 emergency calls within its 230-square-mile district each year, as well as provide mutual aid to neighboring departments.

Chief Danny Cacchiotti said interest in the firefighters' association has declined since 1998, but he hopes to see a revitalization.

The group uses funds it raises to purchase supplies, gear and equipment that is not provided for in the budget. They also make donations to local churches and charities throughout the year.

People will get a chance to see the firefighters in action Saturday, and different displays of public safety all afternoon, including a visit from the Bayflite helicopter, demonstrations on hazardous materials and the fire safety house on loan from the Southern Manatee Fire District.

The day of safety will be followed by a night of sizzle, with One Night Rodeo providing hours of snappy country music.

There will be food and beverage available for purchase during the event.

It's shaping up to be a beautiful day in the country - thanks to a community effort.

This is the group's first fundraiser, and Whaley could tell they were having trouble getting everything together. She took the bull by the horns.

"Let me see what I can do," Whaley said.

She has gathered donations from individuals and groups that will be sold at a silent auction, including a weekend at the beach, a 27-inch color television, gift baskets, and gift certificates for area restaurants and a backyard barbecue for 25 catered by Whaley's business, C&W Barbecue.

"My mom always said we are all born with a God-given talent," Whaley said. "I think I have two - running my mouth and cooking.

She put both to good use.

If you go

Myakka Firefighters Association's Spring Hoedown

WHEN: Demonstrations noon to 5 p.m.; dance from 7 to 11 p.m. Saturday

WHERE: Across from Myakka City Fire Station 1, 10215 Wauchula Road

COST: Donations requested for daytime activities; $10 for dance; children under 12 free

Distributed by the Associated Press