On May 24 my daughter felt the strong need to leave her home in a small community near Durango, Colo., to return to her hometown of Joplin after the EF-5 tornado struck Joplin on May 22, destroying a large part of our town.
When Jessica and my granddaughter left, my daughter wrote “Joplin, Mo.” on the rear window of her vehicle. Durango to Joplin is about 980 miles. That’s far enough that they spent the night at Tucumcari, N.M.
When she stopped at the motel, a man approached her and asked if she was from Joplin. She told him it was her hometown and she was going there to help. They parted their ways and Jessica went to her room. A short time later, the front office called her and told her she had a package. The front desk brought the package to her room. Upon opening the package, she found a note saying “call me so I know you received this.” In the package was check for $200 for her travel to Joplin. Jessica called the number and found out it was the man she had met. The man’s name is Jeremy R. Sanchez. He is a firefighter in the town of Monrovia, Calif.
Jeremy was on his way home from a trip somewhere east of Joplin. Since he was so close to Joplin, he took a detour through the town to see just how badly Joplin was damaged. Jeremy was so moved by the destruction, that he felt the need to help. Some interesting facts for me: his name is Jeremy, the same as my son. He is a firefighter and I am a retired battalion fire chief.
While Jessica was talking to Jeremy, he told her he was going to see if his firefighter association would make a sizable donation to the firefighters in Joplin for relief.
He also talked to neighboring fire departments in his area for their support. The total donations added up to $3,200.
I wanted to make the public aware of this selfless donation.
Steve Lea is a former Joplin Fire Department battalion chief. He presented the checks to Joplin fire Capt. Kevin Theilen.