VAIL — Vail firefighter Chad Cristia is a calendar guy. He’s part of this year’s Colorado Firefighter Calendar, a fundraiser for the Children’s Hospital Colorado Burn Center and other centers around Colorado.
As Cristia was talking about the calendar, the audition, the serious cause and the serious fun, the alarm rang in the West Vail fire house, and he and the other firefighters answered it. That’s what they do. People need help; they show up.
“I wanted to get involved because it’s all for charity and give back to the children who have been victims of burns. That’s the biggest thing. Being able to give back to the community,” Cristia said.
Of course, answering the call for the audition is much different than emergency calls.
“It’s an adrenaline rush. You just have fun with it. Everyone is cheering for you,” Cristia said.
The cause is noble, and audition night saw lots of glitz and glamor. One firefighter ripped a phone book in half, one threw long-stemmed roses to the audience. Molly Meek from Denver’s GQ Barber Lounge won the bidding to oil up the firefighters before they hit the stage, among them Vail’s Cristia.
Ryan and Trista Sutter were among the celebrity judges. You’ll recall that Trista was the bachelorette on ABC’s show of the same name, and Ryan bested a group of pretenders to win the fair Trista’s hand. They were married in 2003, and Ryan’s a lieutenant with the Vail Fire Department.
Eagle River Fire Protection District’s Jenny Klingmueller and Charlie Keller were on last year’s calendar. Chip Carney, also with Eagle River, was on it the year before.
Cristia is the first from Vail.
For Cristia, it’s also personal.
“I received a third degree burn on my wrist when I was 3 years old. I clearly remember the pain that went with it,” Cristia said. “Being a firefighter and being in pretty good shape, I decided this would be a way to help others going through it.”
Money from calendar sales sends young burn victims to camp in Estes Park.
The morning of Aug. 16, they’ll go to the burn center and unveil the calendar. The firefighters in the calendar won’t know what month they are, or who’s on the cover, Cristia said.
At the 2014 calendar release party that night, they’ll unveil each month individually.
The calendar was launched in 2011 to help burn victims and raise fire safety awareness. It’s all volunteer, and every dime goes to the program.
Firefighters from around the state volunteer time to raise funds, attend events, educate children on fire prevention and increase awareness for the Children’s Hospital Colorado Burn Center and other centers around Colorado.
Staff Writer Randy Wyrick can be reached at 970-748-2935 and firstname.lastname@example.org.