On June 20, 2007, Ohio firefighter Mike Manning arrived at Santa Clara Valley Medical Center for the conclusion of his “Feel the Burn Ride 07,” and he was escorted in grand style by fire engines and motorcycle escort. Close to 500 people cheered Mike on as his 3,100 mile bicycle and motorcycle trek to raise awareness and funding for the Phoenix Society for Burn Survivors came to an end. The event in San Jose was the official finish line for Manning, who began his one-man journey on May 8th from Shriners Burn Hospital in Boston, Massachusetts.
As part of his campaign, Manning traveled from state to state, visiting burn survivors, burn centers, medical staffs, and fire departments. To avoid using donation money, Mike stayed at fire stations all along his route, where he was given incredible support and resources to help make his rid go as smooth as possible.
“Without my brother and sister firefighters this journey would have been next to impossible to complete and very costly,” Manning said. “At every stop, I was fed, given a comfortable place to sleep, invited into the homes of firefighters, given directions, able to go on some ride alongs to calls and so much more–it’s the kind of generosity and hospitality I will never forget from each every fire department.”
The trip wasn’t without its challenges. After leaving Boston on his bicycle, Manning suffered an injury that almost forced him to quit the ride. Instead, Mike’s fire chief from Germantown, Ohio, loaned him a “Firefighter Edition” Harley Davidson to finish the trip. However there was a slight mishap with the motorcycle in Las Vegas, Nevada, and Mike decided it would best to return to the power of his two legs and visit Sacramento and the final stop of San Jose on his bicycle.
An entire team of people from Santa Clara Valley Medical, San Jose Fire Department, San Jose Firefighters Burn Foundation, and the Iron Warriors Motorcycle Club made Manning’s San Jose “finish line” party possible. The all-volunteer effort included a world class escort from Station 4/San Jose firefighters and members of the Iron Warriors Motorcycle club; a live band; a delicious home-style barbecue: an awards presentation; speaking program; and a chance for burn survivors to sign Mike’s bike, something that was done throughout his trip.
“The finale at Santa Clara Valley Medical Center was way beyond our expectations, and all of us at the Phoenix Society are so grateful to Mike and to everyone within the burn community, fire service, and medical profession who truly rallied around this nationwide effort and made it such a huge success in raising awareness for burn survivors” said Amy Acton, Executive Director of the Phoenix-Society for Burn Survivors. “In addition, we are extremely thankful to FireEngineering.com, which helped us by providing continuous updates on Mike’s
progress and routing”.
The Phoenix Society, based in Grand Rapids, Michigan, has a 30-year history of providing recovery resources and assistance to burn survivors. A video essay of Manning’s trip and the finale in San Jose is being produced and will be posted at www.phoenix-society.org in the near future. The Phoenix Society always welcomes involvement from any firefighter and would appreciate hearing from you. To see more photos from the “Feel the Burn 07” finale party in San Jose, please visit Mike’s blog at: www.feeltheburn2007.blogspot.com.