Penn. Nonprofit Donates $100K to First Responders with Cancer
Standard-Speaker, Hazleton, Pa.
Dec. 31—A nonprofit organization that assists first responders who are battling cancer reached a major milestone in 2017.
As of December, Foundation 58 has donated more than $100,000 to ailing firefighters, police officers and emergency personnel.
"We started 12 years ago and at that time, we were just trying to help as many people as we could," said Justin Mhley, president of Foundation 58. "Over the last three years, things have really ramped up."
In 2017 alone, the Hazleton nonprofit donated $32,500 to those in need. Of that amount, $13,000 stayed in the Hazleton area, while additional funds went to places like Scranton, Macungie and Bethlehem.
"It's an all-volunteer organization and we said, 'Let's bear down and see what we can do,'" Mhley said. "We have had a great board of directors over the last few years and the results show." He credited the board and other supporters for helping to raise money.
The group's largest fundraiser is the annual "Bowling for the Brave" held at Chacko's Family Bowling Center in Wilkes-Barre. More than 200 people participated in the last event, which raised about $16,000. The next bowling fundraiser will be held Feb. 25. Registration will open within the next few weeks.
Foundation 58 also holds a "58 Hour Fight Against Cancer" and donations can be made anytime by visiting www.foundation58.org.
The organization's most recent grants of $2,500 each went to volunteer firefighters in New Mexico and Virginia.
While the foundation attempts to keep funding in the local area, it accepts grant applications from cancer-stricken first responders from across the country.
"People contact us. We don't look for anybody. We take every application seriously," Mhley said.
He and his cousin, Keith Mhley, started Foundation 58 in memory of Justin's father, Hazleton City Deputy Fire Chief Gabriel A. Mhley. Gabriel wore badge No. 58 and was forced to retire due to illness in 2003. The career firefighter lost his battle with cancer later that year.
The foundation's goal is to offset costs for treatment, travel, prescriptions, home-care equipment and other expenses associated with fighting the disease, so that the patient can maintain their lifestyle and focus on beating the disease.
Mhley said new fundraisers will likely launch in 2018.
"We're excited about what the future holds," he said.