Four Brighton Area Firefighters were recognized as Game Changers for their Hurricane Sandy relief efforts during the Detroit Pistons Basketball Game Wednesday night against the Brooklyn Nets.
The Detroit Pistons' Come Together Game Changers Program honors everyday people making a difference within their communities through service, leadership and volunteerism.
Brighton Firefighters Bryan Berry, Robert Miller, Matt Johnston and Mark Cirella delivered much needed supplies to New York in mid-December and then spent five days volunteering with Hurricane Sandy relief efforts.
"I saw it all on TV and clicked to donate money, but that just felt empty," Berry said. "Then I saw on Facebook on the National Firefighters Endowment that they needed volunteers. We were gone in six days. We were able to raise money from friends and family to buy supplies."
Berry said the priority was demolition and their goal was to remove all drywall, carpets and furniture that were affected by the storm surge before it molded.
The group was able to help clear out the Adomolfi Family home in Massapequa, New York, near Long Island and the Gates Family home in Rockaway, New York, one of the hardest hit areas with the most fatalities and highest flood waters.
"You see a lot of disasters happen, but you don't see any in Michigan," Berry said. "The closest natural disaster in Michigan I an remember is the tornado in Dexter. That destroyed several homes and busineses, however Sandy's destruction was so large, I couldn't see the end of the damage. Down there you see four or five city blocks leveled, kids out looking around for any toys left over and moms crying. It's a lot different."
The men are planning a return trip in May and is hoping to take a total of 12 volunteers this time. However, the cost of tools and supplies will cost them $8,000 for a week.
Berry is currently looking for ways to fund the trip. For more information or to donate funds, contact Berry at firstname.lastname@example.org.