By Julie Ross
The Millburn-Short Hills Volunteer First Aid Squad (MSHVFAS) is now closer to its goal of purchasing a new ambulance, thanks to a Cycle For Wheels Spin-A- Thon fundraising event held on May 20.
The event, which raised approximately $12,500, was sponsored by and held at the YB Fitness gym/physical fitness center in Short Hills.
About 50 individuals, whose ages “ranged from early teens to probably late 70s,” signed up to participate in the fundraiser, said Bryan Daubert, MSHVFAS’ vice president. Participants took one of three 45-minute spinning classes, collecting donations from family members, friends, coworkers, and others in exchange for doing so. “We also had people who didn’t want to or couldn’t take part in the class, and donated directly rather than sponsoring someone.”
The MSHVFAS is a non-profit entity, with donations its only source of income and 100 percent of every dollar received from donors going directly to support its operations. One of the squad’s three ambulances is nearing the end of its service life and is in need of being replaced, at an anticipated cost of around $250,000.
“We don’t have that capital available to us, and the donations from the Spin-A-
Thon will help us substantially in raising the money we need for the ambulance replacement,” Daubert said.
The Spin-A-Thon is the first fundraising event MSHVFAS has ever held. It has typically relied on more traditional fundraising efforts in the form of bi-annual mailings soliciting donations from Millburn/Short Hills residents. “That’s kind of ‘old school,’ and we’re definitely going to be shirting more to events to raise money,” said Elyse Bell, an auxiliary member of the squad who handles its marketing and public relations activities.
Daubert and Bell noted that in addition to raising money to help purchase the new ambulance, the Spin-A-Thon attracted the attention of a few potential new squad members. MSHVFAS presently has 50 to 60 active members, as well as some college student members who serve shifts when they are home from school on break. All squad members are trained and certified Emergency Medical Technicians (EMTs); MSHVFAS provides the state-mandated EMT training and hosts EMT training sessions twice each year.
“Around three years ago, we were at a low with membership,” Daubert stated. “Now we have a lot of people interested. We are going to keep recruiting. Events like the Spin-A-Thon definitely help to get the word out.”
What’s more, both Daubert and Bell said the Spin-A-Thon has significantly increased community awareness about MSHVFAS and how it serves the Millburn- Short Hills community. Staffed by volunteers only and available 24 hours a day, seven days a week, the squad provides assistance to residents and visitors at no charge and has been doing so since answering its first call on June 14, 1958.
To learn more about becoming a MSHVFAS volunteer and/or making a donation to the squad, visit https://www.mshvfas.org/.