On the morning of January 23, 2022, the Middletown Volunteer Fire Department and companies from four counties, totaling more than 90 firefighters, were dispatched to a house fire with entrapment in Royalton, Dauphin County.
While searching for occupants, volunteer firefighter Shawn Menear and three other firefighters became trapped when the second floor of the structure collapsed. Menear remained trapped under debris for more than 40 minutes. Once rescued, he was taken to the Penn State Milton S. Hershey Medical Center where he was stabilized and subsequently sent to the Thomas Jefferson University Hospital in Philadelphia for further treatment.
Two days later, Grand Knight Jim Young and Chancellor Matthew Sheaffer of Knights of Columbus Council 3501 at Seven Sorrows of the Blessed Virgin Mary Parish in Middletown approached Father Timothy Sahd, pastor, for his approval to host a “Fill the Boot” fundraiser to help defray Menear’s anticipated medical expenses.
“As soon as we learned of the severity of Firefighter Meaner’s injuries, we immediately thought of how our Seven Sorrows family could help him,” Sheaffer said. “With my past history of being a volunteer firefighter, I understand that the resources to fund his and his family’s day-to-day cost of living would be impacted greatly. Our parish family has always stepped up for the community needs.”
Father Sahd wholeheartedly agreed to support the initiative. “I’m so thankful for our Knights for seeing a need in the community, and allowing our parish to show the face of Jesus to Shawn,” he said.
The Knights then approached Principal Angela Warner about partnering with Seven Sorrows School, and she agreed to make the fundraiser part of their Catholic Schools Week programs.
The “Fill the Boot” fundraiser was launched the very next weekend. Through the generosity of Seven Sorrows parishioners and school students, the Knights raised approximately $4,200 to benefit this local hero. Ceremonial checks from the “Fill the Boot” fundraiser were presented to the Middletown Volunteer Fire Department on February 3.
Firefighter Menear underwent multiple surgical procedures at the Thomas Jefferson University Hospital, and the doctors were able to save his legs. He was transferred to Magee Rehabilitation Hospital for an extensive course of physical therapy. Menear was discharged on April 6 and received a hero’s welcome home from the community. Thankfully, he continues to progress on the long road to recovery from his horrific injuries.
Knights of Columbus Council 3501 was recognized for their charitable efforts for Menear and his family by the Knights of Columbus Pennsylvania State Council. Each year at its annual spring convention, the State Council presents four of the more than 550 local councils with State Community Awards. Council 3501 of Seven Sorrows was one of the four recipients of this prestigious award for their support of Firefighter Menear.
The State Community Award was presented after the 10:30 a.m. Mass on August 14 at Seven Sorrows. Father Sahd, Firefighter Menear and multiple Knight of Columbus officers were in attendance.
“Where there is a need, there is a Knight,” said Grand Knight, Jim Young. “Charity was one of the Knights’ founding principles 140 year ago. Today, through our Faith in Action initiative, the Knights continue to support a wide variety of faith, family, community and life programs. Supporting an injured firefighter in his time of need was the right thing to do. It was the Knights thing to do.”
(Photos courtesy of Council 3501.)
By Jim Knight and Matthew Sheaffer, Special to The Witness