Firefighters appearing in calendar


The 2008 Gainesville Firefighter Calendar is shown.

Special to The Sun
Published: Monday, January 7, 2008 at 6:01 a.m.
Last Modified: Monday, January 7, 2008 at 12:00 a.m.

Michael Cowart has seen some awful things and some amazing things in his 16 years as a firefighter. At the top of his list of things that still have the power to move him emotionally is a week of summer camp for a small group of children - the burn survivors.

Facts

How to find it

Organizers are suggesting a $15 minimum donation for the 2008 Gainesville Firefighter Calendar Benefiting Camp Amigo, which is available:

By calling (352) 538-2657

At Creations Hairstyling and Nail Spa in Thornebrooke Village

During the calendar signing Jan. 22 at The Swamp restaurant from

6 p.m. until 8 p.m.

"When you see the kids at that camp smile - and as hard as it is for some of them to smile because of their bad facial burns - you know you want to do anything you can to help them," said Cowart, a lieutenant with Gainesville Fire Rescue and soon to be a father for the fourth time.

Cowart's "anything" to help the kids was to take his shirt off. Cowart is the January model for the 2008 Gainesville Firefighter Calendar Benefiting Camp Amigo.

The nonprofit Camp Amigo is offered one week each summer at no cost to burn survivors between the ages of 6 and 18 who would benefit from bonding with other young survivors. The 2008 camp has tentatively been scheduled for the second week of July at Billy Jo Rish State Park west of Appalachicola.

"I saw the police calendar that came out several years ago and I had been thinking since then that it was a good idea, but I thought we should do it in a different style," Tonya Cowart said. "We've been working on this since last summer, but really all we did was to put the right people together."

The Cowarts convinced more than a dozen Gainesville firefighters - men and women - to spend a few of their off-duty hours posing for a volunteer professional photographer who then turned over the project to a volunteer professional graphic designer. The completed calendar includes poses of one or two firefighters each month.

"We've had no expenses, so we have no overhead," Michael Cowart said. "That means all of the proceeds will go to Camp Amigo."

The Cowarts said they are asking for a minimum donation of $15 for the calendars, which are available three ways: by calling (352) 538-2657; at Creations Hairstyling and Nail Spa in Thornebrook Village; or during the calendar signing Jan. 22 at The Swamp restaurant from 6-8 p.m.

Firefighters who modeled for the calendar and are not working on Jan. 22 have been asked to show up at The Swamp for the signing.

Karen Voyles can be reached at 352-359-5656 or kvoyles@gmail.com.

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