Support Your Firefighters
Firefighters are known to go to great lengths to help others in need. Ignite the Spirit - Milwaukee was created to raise funds for Firefighters and their families who have suffered unfortunate hardships. Our mission is to ensure that our Brothers and Sisters are never left to battle life's hardships alone.
Our vision is to provide emotional and physical support and financial assistance to Milwaukee Firefighters during times of need. We accomplish this through donations from the local community, and by partnering with local businesses and other non-profit organizations for our annual fundraising events.
We are proud to be a 501(c) (3) organization created and managed by Milwaukee Firefighters. And, all members of Ignite The Spirit - Milwaukee are unpaid volunteers. This means that every donation goes directly to providing financial support to Milwaukee Firefighters and their families.
Every single thing Joe does is thoughtful and purpose driven. His career training and his natural instincts don’t allow for impulsive actions, and like most firefighters he chose this career path to help people and make a difference. Joe can remember the exact moment he knew he had to start ITS-MKE. He was leaving the funeral of a fellow firefighter and was struck by how many people had turned out to support the family despite the cold and snow. It was clear people wanted to help, and he wanted to create an organization that would be there to make sure that those who risk everything for complete strangers would be supported in their darkest times. A support team that would keep this brotherhood//sisterhood of families from feeling like they’re one misstep, one loss, or one hardship away from complete devastation.
Like any dad, Joe struggles to find a work life balance. His very limited free time is spent perfecting the art of homemade pizza and enjoying dance parties with his wife, Karyn, and their children Knox and Jory. After a long history of competing in different athletic ventures including power lifting and semi-pro football, he enjoys using ‘The Sweat Life’ to clear his mind and keep in shape in case the NFL ever comes calling.
Andy could have just as easily been orbiting the earth as an astronaut had he not been rejected by NASA, but it’s just as well because his talents are much better utilized here on earth. His talents may seem random but he’s one of the most interesting people you’ll ever meet. Andy is an accomplished unicyclist, holds the 2000 World Ultimate Beach Championship title in frisbee golf, is an avid fly fisherman, and has achieved The Driftless Trifecta in 45 minutes. If you don’t know what that is, you should google it.
He once packed up his Rottweiler and best friend, Chova, in a bike trailer and went for a ride that ended up taking him across the entire country. His sense of adventure is paralleled only by his sense of duty to his fellow firefighters. Andy is passionate about ITS because the organization is able to assist each individual based on their specific situation and needs. And if there’s one guy who can adapt to any situation, it’s Andy. If you’re lucky, you’ll see him ride up on his unicycle.
Although born and raised in the city, Maria is most at home and at peace in nature. She loves being in the woods, camping in the mountains, hiking trails, fishing off her boat or anything that keeps her moving and outdoors.
Maria has known what it means to be part of a firefighter family her entire life. She and her siblings were raised by a Milwaukee Firefighter who taught them everything they needed to know about dedication to family and having a strong work ethic. Her self described “crazy family” values loyalty and family above everything which is what drew her to ITS. Being part of the organization is her own way of taking care of her firefighter brothers and sisters, the same way she would take care of her own family. But be careful – once you are in Maria’s circle she will most likely make you join her on her next camping trip.
Matt is the definition of reliable. Serving others is second nature and was instilled in him by his father, a man who gave tirelessly to Habitat for Humanity even as he battled stage 4 cancer. Matt dedicates his time to ITS because he understands the difficulty many firefighters have asking for help, so he likes to be there with ITS before anyone even has to ask.
A collector of things, Matt rarely throws anything away because he eventually finds another use for it. When Matt isn’t helping others or hoarding spare parts and tools, he enjoys spending time with his family in northern Wisconsin riding ATVs, playing on tractors and hunting. If there’s something you need, Matt will do everything in his power to help you. Chances are it’s in his garage somewhere.
Born and raised in Milwaukee, Kendrick's journey to greatness within the Milwaukee Fire Department wasn't always predestined. His first career was as a Master Electrician, a skill he continues to use in his retirement. Perhaps it’s because he likes working with his hands, but he also enjoys sewing and crocheting.
You might picture Kendrick in retirement, leisurely seated in a rocking chair with a ball of yarn, accompanied by his affectionate yet demanding cat, Beni. However, this image is far from the truth. Kendrick's relentless drive hasn't diminished one bit. Having served as an HEO (driver/operator) with the Milwaukee Fire Department for 22 years, his intensity, focus, and commitment to serving others remain unwavering.
Kendrick is passionate about making a difference and is particularly dedicated to advancing the ITS mission of aiding firefighters facing mental health challenges. His retirement has been anything but idle; he enjoys traveling, volunteering, spending quality time with loved ones, and dedicating himself to physical and mental fitness. He has set his sights on deepening his involvement with non-profit causes, firmly believing in the motto, 'availability is the best ability.' Kendrick remains ever ready to assist ITS in any capacity, which may or may not include crocheting matching sweaters for the entire board of directors.