On May 4, 2017, Lt. Joseph P. DiBernardo Memorial Foundation Board members teamed up with celebrities to support the First Annual Denis Leary Firefighter Challenge. The Challenge benefitted the Leary Firefighters Foundation and the FDNY Foundation.

Fourteen teams of four, with two celebrity team leaders took on a day of training at “the Rock,” which trains FDNY firefighters. Trainees were able to “be a heroes just for a day” by crawling through the burn building, by knocking down a fire in the highrise simulator, and by cutting on a car during an auto extrication. They also conducted a search and rescue exercise, and watched a scenario in the subway simulator.

The Joey D team was led by Rachael Ray and Michael Lombardi. Team members representing the Foundation were Mary Jo Stark, Tiffany Griesch, Dave Walters, and Mike McGinniss. Mike McGinniss says, “Participating in the Leary Foundation Firefighter for a Day event was an incredible opportunity to get a small glimpse into the challenges firefighters face. It was scary and exhilarating at the same time and truly inspiring. I went into this having profound respect for firefighters and first responders and came away with even more respect and admiration for what these women and men do for our communities. The FDNY trainers and leadership were also incredibly gracious and generous with their attention, insight, and patience, especially with people like me who had no previous experience. Great job! Great day! Great cause!”

The Leary Firefighters Foundation provides generous support for the Lt. Joseph P. DiBernardo Memorial Foundation’s grant program. Our grant program provides life-saving personal safety rope systems for firefighters; since 2012, grants totaling over $181,000 have been awarded to departments in need.

“We are thankful for the Leary Firefighters Foundation’s continued support of the Lt. Joseph P. DiBernardo Memorial Foundation and for honoring Joey’s memory. Our team was honored and excited to participate in this one-of-a-kind event that benefits firefighters throughout the country,” says Chief Joe DiBernardo, Foundation President and father of Joey DiBernardo.