January 10, 2000
by Deborah Stone
The Northwest Burn Foundation (NWBF) is a non-profit organization established in 1982 by firefighters, parents of burn survivors, and the director of the Burn Center at Harborview Medical Center. The foundation's mission is to prevent burns and improve the quality of life for burn survivors through programs, education, and research.
All programs are free and include a summer camp for burned children, emergency housing for families of burn patients at Harborview, burn prevention education programs, survivor support groups, corrective cosmetic consultations for burn survivors, funding for burn care research, training for burn care medical professionals, and direct aid for families devastated by fires.
For the first time ever, the Northwest Burn Foundation recently recognized its most ambitious volunteers and supporters through specialized awards. Among those honored was Bill McKay of Woodinville, who was named Event Coordinator of the Year for his leadership of the Northwest Fire Protection Softball Tournament. This event raised more than $19,000 for the NWBF; the money will go towards sending children to the foundation's summer camp program.
McKay is president of Advanced Fire Protection, a fire sprinkler system installation company founded in 1980. His association with NWBF began two years ago when he decided to try and put together a softball tournament to raise money for the foundation.
"I had heard of this idea before and knew that it was being done elsewhere," says McKay. "I thought it would be fun to get a tournament together to help benefit the foundation up here."
Twelve teams, comprised of players from sprinkler contractors, supply companies, and fire departments in Washington, entered the first tournament held in the summer of 1998. The event raised $8,100 and was considered an immediate success.
"I think the Burn Foundation was surprised and incredibly delighted with the results," comments McKay. "We charged each team $500 for an entry fee and also received money from various companies for advertising in the brochure we created."
The second tournament, held last August, included sixteen teams and raised $19,000.
"We decided to raise additional money this time by getting five dollars per home run," adds McKay. "The first home run was free, but after that, each one was five dollars, and we raised $2,200 just in home run money."
McKay's goal for next summer's tournament is $20,000 and he is optimistic it can be done. He says, "We're more organized now and the duties are split up into three committees. We'll start right after the first of the year and meet monthly to make sure that all the bases are covered. We have lots of good people on board now and I know it'll be even more successful than last year."
McKay is no stranger to community service, as he is known for donating his services to help install sprinkler systems for other nonprofit organizations, including Little Bit and the Ronald McDonald House.
"Life safety is my thing," explains McKay, "and if I can help others, I just go ahead and do it. It's a good feeling to know that you've helped people. It makes me feel like a good person."