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Igniting My Passion | Sara Sheaffer

Being told that my father, Christopher William Sheaffer was killed just before my teenage years was an immensely challenging experience. He was the cornerstone of our family and left a profound impact on everyone he encountered. His belief in the value of education was evident. In fact, I can still hear his constant, and often annoying (then) encouragement to this day of him echoing and singing  the phrase, “Be cool, stay in school, just say no.”

After his tragic demise, navigating life became an uphill battle. Academic prowess wasn’t my forte then, yet I harbored a deep-seated fear of disappointing my father’s expectations.

Initially, I gravitated towards nursing, influenced by the prevalent profession among the women in my family. However, it soon became apparent that nursing wasn’t my calling. A pivotal moment arose when my mother fell severely ill with cancer, and her prognosis seemed dire. The day I had to call for emergency help marked a turning point. The care and support extended by the firefighters and EMS responders were profoundly moving. It ignited a fervent desire within me to emulate their compassion and assistance for others, leading me to aspire to become a firefighter.

Taking a leap of faith, I reached out to SOWF, pleading for an opportunity to redirect my education towards firefighting. Enrolling in a fire academy meant leaving behind my stable desk job, but it proved to be one of the most pivotal decisions I’ve made. Securing a position in an esteemed fire department, attaining numerous certifications, and earning a promotion to drive our ladder trucks were milestones I achieved. Additionally, utilizing some of these certifications, I now dedicate my off-days to instructing at a fire academy. The Special Operations Warrior Foundation (SOWF) played a pivotal role by affording me the chance to pursue a degree in Fire Science, enabling further advancement in my field.

Most significantly, my role as a firefighter allows me to extend the same care and support I received from those firefighters on that challenging day. It’s a career replete with enriching experiences and meaningful connections. The unwavering support of the SOWF has been instrumental—they stood by me when others might have given up. They’ve become an integral part of my journey, akin to family.

To the donors and sponsors, your generosity and support through the Special Operations Warrior Foundation have been transformative. Your benevolence has not only shaped my life but has also enabled me to positively impact the lives of others. I am eternally grateful for the opportunities your kindness has afforded me.

“Be cool, stay in school, and just say no!” 😉

-Sara Sheaffer

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