The concept for the Hillsborough County Firefighters Charities, Inc. was born during the fall of 2001, when Hillsborough County Firefighters lost Captain Darryl Dzugen in the line of duty. Darryl was 36 years old and left behind a wife and 2 children, ages 5 and 8.

Before we could gather ourselves and determine what the needs of Darryl's family were, September 11th unfolded before us. After spending two weeks fundraising for our firefighter brothers in New York, we returned our thoughts to home. What we learned from Darryl's death, and that of our brothers in New York, was that we were unprepared to take care of our own. We also learned that dying "on duty" is different from "in the line of duty," and that state, federal and Gold Shield benefits could not always be counted on.

The result of our experience, and the needs of Darryl's family, evolved first into a Widow and Children's Fund within our labor organization and then the development of the Hillsborough County Firefighters Charities, Inc., a 501c(3) charity financially and legally independent of the union. To date the charity has paid the health care benefits for the Dzugen family and college education for both children. Our intent is to carry this commitment to any of our families when needed in the future.

Beyond the needs of our families, we were very touched by the support shown to us by the community following September 11th. We had always provided community and educational programs through our union, but wanted to expand our commitment to charity and the community we serve. We are proud to say that 100% of our members have shown their financial commitment to the charity through payroll deduction. We are committed and ask you to please consider joining us on our journey.

We thank you for your support and the appreciation you have shown for your firefighters.