The “Cocktails for a Cause” event is one of many staged by the organization, which was launched in 2010 by Boca resident Holly Barba. The EMS program is one close to Barba’s heart. Her brother, George William “Bill” Bailey, was a student at Palm Beach State when he was killed in a car accident in 2003. He passed away only a few months shy of his graduation, yet was still honored with an honor guard funeral.
“There were over 500 people there; they were his best friends,” says Barba, 46. “It made me understand the brotherhood, and I thought, wow, we have to do something.”
By starting her own nonprofit apart from the college, Barba exercises full control over where foundation dollars go. Barba estimates that she’s raised nearly $10,000 in the past 18 months—all of it going to the program and students.
“What people don’t realize is that most of these students are going to school, they have to do ride-times where they actually work with the fire department, clinical time where they work in a hospital, and then studying,” says Barba, 46. “It’s not like usual college—it’s very difficult for them to have a job at all.”
Thanks in part to Barba’s fundraising efforts, students were able to enter the Advanced Life Support Competition in Orlando, in which they faced off against other students and active fire departments in timed scenarios. “For the first time in 37 years, the students won in the student division,” Barba says. “They’re the best of the best and to know that I’ve helped them is very gratifying for me.”
Patrons attending the event on Aug. 3 can expect two cocktails and appetizers. Tickets are $25 in advance, and $30 at the door, with all proceeds going to the cause.
“There’s nothing like what I’m doing in the area. We have one of the best colleges in the country for paramedics,” Barba says. “It’s important to help educate them and keep them in the area. We’re very fortunate.”
For more information on the event, visit www.facebook.com/firefund. Or call Gina Campbell of Morton’s at 561/392-8643.