BEYOND THE BURNS

 

On June 15, 2016 a demonstration using fire went horribly wrong resulting in two children being severely burned at a summer camp near Tallahassee, Florida. One of the burn victims, Navaeh Carpenter a 10 year old girl, sustained third-degree burns over 70 percent of her body.

The healing process will take an undetermined amount of time. Navaeh’s father and stepmother remain by her side as she has been moved to hospitals both in Gainesville and Boston. The family not only has been burdened with this terrible tragedy, they are also now presented with the financial strain that accompanies significant medical bills and loss of wages. The name of the other burn victim has not been released.

Rebekah Mayfield witnessed the horrible accident and in response to this awful event has organized Beyond the Burns 5K to raise awareness of fire safety and to show love and support to both of the burn survivors and their families.  All proceeds from the event will go to support the families in the recovery of their children.

The Renaissance Woman is happy to share this great cause and to help spread awareness of fire safety. We had the opportunity to sit down with Rebekah and ask some questions about the event and how we can help.

 

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How do you know the families of the children who were burned as a result of this accident?

 

Prior to Kid’s Camp, I did not know either of the children who were tragically burned. Through planning this event, I met Nevaeh’s father. Over the last couple of months, I have gotten to know Nevaeh’s precious grandmother, Ruby. Our relationship has developed as strangers coming together to support each other through this tragic event. It’s amazing, meeting this family and seeing the grace, love, and mercy they show others has in turn helped to heal my heart.

You see, when I left camp at the end of the week, I was a broken person full of bitterness that this could have happened. Something like this should have never happened, especially not at church camp. Like many other witnesses, I faced a tremendous amount of guilt that I should have done something differently. The events of June 15th were haunting me.

But the truth is that there was nothing I could have done differently. I did not create the situation, I was merely chaperoning a group of children. I did the very best I could and only a fire extinguisher could have put that fire our faster. The man who did the experiment and started the fire also held the fire extinguisher and said that he didn’t know how to use it. His lack of knowledge delayed the fire from being extinguished faster.

 

What gave you the idea for this event?

 

After returning home from camp, our church brought in a grief counselor to speak with all the children who were at Kid’s Camp and witnessed the fire. While in the counseling session, some of the younger children said they wanted to do something for Nevaeh and Luke, the burn survivors. Together, they decided that they wanted to hold a 5K. A few days later, I was asked to bring the idea to fruition.

 

How can we help?

 

We need runners, volunteers, sponsors and help spreading the word about the event. Please encourage everyone you know to visit www.beyondtheburns.com to sign up. The more people we get to this event, the more people can receive life-saving information about fire safety. If you know anyone who would like to volunteer or sponsor the event, they can contact us at beyondtheburns@gmail.com.

 

Can you tell us a little bit about the event?

 

Beyond the Burn is a fundraiser and community service event for two young children who were tragically burned. This will be a day of fun, education, challenge and celebration. We have an amazing auction, bounce houses, a face painter and balloon artist. Lunch will be provided for donation.

We are honored to have the local Red Cross joining us with their “mini smoke house” to teach children how to escape from a fire, the Tallahassee Fire Department will be meeting children and speaking with families about fire safety, and through generous donations being able to offer attending families a complementary fire extinguisher with instruction on how to use and care for it correctly.

Together, as a community, Beyond the Burns will help restore joy, hope and beauty to the devastating ashes of summer by lifting the financial burden for the children’s families and educating our community on fire safety. 100% of the proceeds will be donated directly to the children.

 

What’s the most important thing that children and adults should know about fire safety?

 

Most fire accidents are 100% preventable. We need to educate ourselves, our families and community on what to do to prevent fires, on how to create a fire plan in case they are faced with a situation like this and on how to use a fire extinguisher.

Don’t take for granted that you will know what to do innately. In traumatic situations for the most part we cannot control how we react. We tend to fight, flight or freeze with very little exceptions. You can only use prior knowledge from previous experiences or education. If you have never touched a fire extinguisher before, how do you know for sure you will know what to do with one if you need to use it?

We also need people to understand that fire extinguishers and smoke alarms need regular maintenance. For example, if your fire extinguisher is older than 3-5 years, you need to have it serviced or replaced and fire extinguishers need to be shaken regularly to keep chemicals from settling. You can find more information about that at http://www.fire-extinguisher101.com/.

 

For those who cannot attend the event, do you know how they can receive fire safety information online?

 

Yes, one of the sponsors Sean Collins, retired fireman and owner of Star Fire Extinguisher out of Marianna, FL offers many services to the families and businesses across the panhandle for fire prevention. You can visit his website at www.starfireextinguisher.net. Additionally, a local Tallahassee fireman and owner of Fire Professionals of Tallahassee, Jay Kessinger, has great information on his website, www.fireprofessionalsfl.com, like how to use and care for fire extinguishers. I highly encourage people to visit these websites and www.fire-extinguisher101.com for more information.

 

If you wish to attend the Beyond the Burns 5K/1 Mile Fun Run, be a sponsor or make a donation, or simply for more information, please visit www.beyondtheburns.com.

 

Rebekah Mayfield is a life long southerner with a passion for children.  She spends all of her time either at work, playing with her kids,  volunteering at church  and together with her husband, leading a local Royal Ranger outpost.

Rebekah Mayfield is a life long southerner with a passion for children. She spends all of her time either at work, playing with her kids, volunteering at church or together with her husband, leading a local Royal Ranger outpost.