Three locals to be featured in 2025 firefighter calendar

May 7, 2024, 9:15 am
Ryan Kiedrowski, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter

There were five area volunteer firefighters attending the April 27 event in Regina, with three making the final 12 to be featured in the upcoming calendar.

The big selection night has come and gone, choosing from 16 possible candidates for the 2025 edition of the Saskatchewan Firefighters Calendar. There were five area volunteer firefighters attending the April 27 event in Regina, with three making the final 12 to be featured in the upcoming calendar.

The calendar raises money for the Jim Pattison Children’s Hospital in Saskatoon with all proceeds going to the cause. While final numbers are still being tabulated, some say it was a record year for fundraising.

“Voting exceeded last year’s, but we don’t yet know by how much at this point,” said Brad Woodard, president of the Saskatchewan Firefighters Calendar. “It was a packed venue with over 500 people in attendance.”

Online voting took place in the weeks preceding selection night with those firefighters gaining the most votes comprising the 12 in the upcoming calendar.

“It was a little nerve wracking at the beginning, but after you got on stage the first time, the nerves kind of stopped and the excitement started to hit more than anything. It was fun night,” recalled Jordan Giroux, member of the Whitewood Fire Department. “It didn’t quite hit me right away, once they called my name when I was to go on stage, I got pretty pumped.”

Giroux made the realm of the lucky 12, and was keen on supporting anyone considering participating in the fundraiser.

“I’d recommend it for other people to do for sure,” he said. “It’s a pretty good feeling after when you’ve raised some money and even better if you get on the calendar.”

Another firefighter from the Whitewood hall - Bailey Swain - also attended selection night, describing it as an adrenaline rush.

“I never got selected, but I am still okay with that, and I would probably try again next year if the opportunity comes,” she said. “I’m just glad I did it. It was definitely out of my comfort zone, I don’t think I could ever go on stage and do that, but I did it!”

For months in advance, all 16 firefighters from across the province took part in focussed exercise and diet plans; all in preparation for the selection night event. Swain agreed that preparing for the event was more a celebration of endurance for all who took part.

“We were all there for the same reasons, it wasn’t to show off that we’re on stage,” she said. “We’re all there because we put in hard work and dedication and to prove that that’s what it gets you. You’re there for a really good cause.”

Wayne Zandee of the Carlyle Fire Department echoed Swain’s sentiments, noting his own personal reasons for signing up.

“We’re all way out of our comfort zone,” he said. “I wanted to get in shape to raise money for the Jim Pattison Children’s Hospital.”

At age 63, Zandee is confident he was the oldest firefighter on stage that night, but also wonders if anyone else in their 60s - or even older - has participated in the past.

“I would like to know if I’ve been the oldest guy on the calendar, though,” he said with a chuckle.

The Kipling Fire Department has something to cheer about as Makyla Stender will also appear in the 2025 calendar.

“I found out that I made it, my name was called, I was pretty relieved. It was a pretty fun night really exciting,” she said. “I was fortunate I actually had a lot of people from the States that were voting for me, too. I’ve got friends all over the place, so I had people from California people from Nevada, people from Texas all voting for me, so that was really cool. I had so much support from my hometown that was amazing.”

As with all the participants the World-Spectator spoke with, Stender noted the camaraderie of the 16 gathered that night.

“We all definitely bonded, I chatted with every single person that was doing it with me. It was really cool to get to know them and where they’re from, what they do, and why they’re doing this,” she said. “I don’t think I ever thought it was going to be on my bucket list. But then it just kind of happened!”

“After one of us would come off stage, we’d always give high fives and, ‘good job’, and ‘you got this’,” Swain added. “So it’s really heartwarming to see and experience that.”

Now that the final 12 are assembled, the next step is to plan photoshoots at each of the individual firefighter’s home fire halls. After that, the lengthy work of assembling, printing, and distributing the calendars will begin.

With 21 editions already under their belt, the Saskatchewan Firefighters Calendar is lauded as the “number two firefighter calendar in the world,” with more than 250 firefighters from 53 communities across the province being featured in its pages over the years. Since the calendar began supporting the JPCH, over $80,000 has been raised.