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hero floatAs an EMS worker and volunteer firefighter, Joseph Theys commits full-time to saving lives. He also knows first-hand the struggle for funding faced by local emergency crews: “Most of our equipment is purchased through grants and stuff like that, so we pretty much rely on grants and fundraisers to keep our doors open.”

Joseph’s also an avid outdoor sportsman, who’s been kayaking for a good cause the last few years in the annual Float for Charity. Last year, the group raised about $20,000 that they gave to Children’s Hospital. The year before, it went to the Wounded Warriors project.

When this year’s organizer had to take a break, Joseph stepped in to keep the good will flowing: “I just didn’t want anybody to miss out on it.” And he chose a cause close to home: police, fire, and emergency service organizations in Cambria and Bedford counties.

Joseph took to Facebook to organize the event. What started as a post among friends swelled into a river of interest – and quickly. Within a week, Joseph had 70 people signed on, with another 700 interested. “The money raised goes to a good cause and we have a good time floating down the river. Makes a good day for family & friends.”

As the likes and shares took off, Joseph brought the event to the Community Foundation for the Alleghenies for safe accounting, and established the Hero Float Fund. The CFA works with change makers like Joseph to make sure nonprofit donations from fundraisers are properly collected and administered. “Fundraisers are a great way for people to get involved with their communities and help the causes they care about,” says Development Associate Katrina Perkosky, “but not everyone understands the less exciting paperwork that goes along with nonprofit accounting. We’re here to make sure all of the passion that goes into fundraising isn’t wasted by bad administration.”

The “float” is a family-friendly, anything-goes 10-mile trip down the Juniata River through Raystown. Lots of participants make their own rafts, and everyone brings food and drinks to enjoy as they lollygag down the river – or, as the case may be, brave the rushing waters. The float can take as little as two hours, or as many as 6 or more, depending on how high, and fast, the water gets.

Kayakers and floaters hit the Raystown branch of the Juniata May 20th at 11am. Participants are asked to give $10, but no donation is required to join in the fun. Go here to support this great event, and emergency service providers in Cambria and Bedford counties.

Find the latest event updates on the Hero Float Facebook page. That’s where you can also sign up to help these heroes helping heroes.

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