Where there's smoke, there's ire! Last month Kirsten Hamling, the former head of Fired Up for Kids, was charged with thirteen counts of theft and four counts of charitable fraud in connection with the Colorado Firefighter Calendar. Since 2004, Fired Up for Kids had sold calendars filled with pictures of smoking-hot firefighters; the proceeds supposedly benefited the burn unit of Children's Hospital — but instead wound up fattening Hamling's pocketbook by more than $240,000, according to the Denver district attorney.
But the show must go on — and the clothes must come off. And last Friday, many of the seventeen firefighters who'd been chosen for the 2013 Colorado Firefighter Calendar at a public tryout in May stopped by a local training facility for their official photo shoot with photographer Brett Seeley. "A few of our models are currently working additional shifts to cover firefighters fighting the wildfires," says calendar spokeswoman Barbara Brooks. "Others are using their off days — one of them came directly off the line — because they are also helping burn victims at Children's Hospital Burn Center."
And this time, Children's Hospital won't get burned. After Hamling resigned from Fired Up for Kids last fall, calendar volunteers banded together to form Colorado Firefighter Calendar Inc., set up a board for the new organization, and filed the proper papers to become a 501[c]3; Brooks says the group hopes to have secured that non-profit designation by August 24, when it will host a party at an as-yet-undermined location to "introduce our seventeen new calendar models."
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Meanwhile, Hamling's preliminary hearing in Denver is scheduled for August 20.
Slide show: 2013 Colorado firefighter photo shoot
Both firefighters and their fans have rallied to the new effort. "It has been nothing short of amazing," Brooks says. "Our Facebook page is through the roof. We've generated close to 4,000 new friends." In addition to its new financial structure, the organization has introduced some other elements — including a special October page complete with two female firefighters wearing pink workout bras, in honor of breast-cancer awareness. But Brooks promises that all net proceeds from the sale of the calendars and special-events tickets will directly benefit Children's Hospital.
And the charitable efforts don't end there. This past weekend Brooks was in her home town of Colorado Springs, helping collect donations for victims of the Waldo Canyon fire. "People were just pouring their hearts out," she says, and so were the firefighters. "They're an amazing group of people. They just keep helping." Now, that's hot!