One Pawleys Island woman is making a difference in the lives of firefighters across the country.
Lillian Carney, wife of the late Midway Fire Rescue Battalion Chief Josh Carney who died of firefighting-relating cancer in October 2017, is donating supplies to fire stations across the country through her program, the Carney Strong Initiative, to help prevent firefighters from getting cancer, and on Friday, Dec. 27, Carney donated supplies, such as responder wipes, to the Georgetown City Fire Department.
“The Carney Strong Initiative, we started it in April of 2018, a couple months after my husband, Josh, passed away after 25 years in the fire service,” Carney said. “He was at Midway for almost 18 years and did several years before that. He died from firefighter-related cancer, so for my daughter and I, we did not want anyone else to suffer the way our family has, so we wanted to do something to be able to, in Josh’s memory, continue the fight against firefighter cancer and bring awareness and to donate some supplies to rural and smaller departments across the country to really help them, number one, understand the significance of what firefighter (is and) the effects that it has on the family and then donate them the supplies to help them reduce their risk and their exposures to it.
“So we pick a different department every month that we donate the supplies to across the country,” she said. “We have a volunteer who makes the donation for us. This time it happens to be me because we chose Georgetown City.”
The foundation really hits home for Carney.
“For me, it really, truly has been part of a greater healing process,” she said. “To be able to share Josh’s story and our story with other people. We see the impact that it’s making on other fire families and other firefighters. They are understanding; they do see it can happen to them. We’re taking that opportunity to make sure that they are aware that the risk is real.”
Donating to Georgetown is special and strange at the same time for Carney.
“This donation’s weird for me because it’s to (Georgetown City Assistant Fire) Chief (Brent) McClellan,” she said. “Brent worked with Josh up at Midway and I think Chief McClelland started shortly after Josh did. Josh had a respect for Brent; he very much enjoyed working with him and he learned a lot from him, so to be able to make the donation to Georgetown City and to Brent and his guys just is (great). Knowing that some of these guys knew Josh, there’s a couple of them that worked with him up at Midway, that just kind of makes it a little more special just because there is that personal connection.”
McClellan was honored to have his department receive the supplies last month.
“We’re just extremely grateful for her choosing us for the December recipient and everything that she donates to us, we use as prevention,” he said. “These are things that are beneficial to our guys to keep everything we can do to prevent. We clean our gear, we take good care of ourselves, we put a lot of money into a gear extractor, which cleans the gear professionally and gets all the carcinogens and stuff off of it. But every little bit of the stuff that she can help us with just makes our day. It’s so much easier on us and everything we can do to keep ourselves safer, that’s our priority one right now.”