My name is Michael Lyons, and I am the President of the EJ Mascaro Scholarship Fund. I would first like to thank you in advance for taking the time to read this.
To begin, I started the EJ Mascaro Scholarship Fund quite honestly as a way for me to personally deal with the loss of my best friend. EJ was a career firefighter and FDIC instructor before he passed away in January of 2017. Growing up in Western Pennsylvania, EJ always knew he was going to be a career firefighter. For as long as I knew him, being a firefighter was the only choice there was. Even as a 15 year old kid who wasn’t even old enough to be a junior firefighter, there was never a doubt in his mind about his career choice. But it was after joining the US Army that EJ discovered his passion. EJ served two and half tours in Iraq as a member of the 1st Battalion, 26th Infantry Regiment, earning several medals, including a Purple Heart. It was during this time that EJ discovered the value of “Service Before Self”.
EJ learned during his deployments that “Service Before Self” truly means putting service to others above oneself. EJ also began to understand that this meant putting the fire service above himself. He applied this value, not by simply trying to be the best firefighter HE could be, but by helping as many firefighters as he could be the best firefighters THEY could all be.
EJ became a fire service instructor in addition to his career position with the Charleston Fire Department, and began teaching around the country, and ultimately as an instructor at FDIC. His lectures were based on his unit’s experiences in Iraq, and the book “The Fought for Each Other”, that detailed some of the most heroic, selfless, and awe-inspiring accounts of selfless brotherhood. Even as he rapidly rose in the fire service, he again placed “Service Before Self” at the forefront, and opened the door for other like minded firefighters to enter into teaching and speaking around the country. One of our board members has grown into a national speaker on Suicide Prevention in the fire service simply by EJ being willing to help a fellow firefighter develop their passion and potential to improve the fire service.
Unlike most firefighters, EJ didn’t view the fire service as “service to the public”, but as a service to each other – to make each other the best firefighters possible. There is simply no way to know what impact EJ could have had on the fire service throughout his career. Unfortunately, his untimely death brought his own personal efforts to an end. The EJ Mascaro Scholarship Fund was started to ensure that his legacy continues on. EJ’s death means that he personally can no longer improve the fire service, however, our organization is determined to make sure the fire service continues to improve through education and scholarships to FDIC in his name.
EJ’s passion was about teaching the value of Service Before Self. That value is our singular focus and guiding principle as we move forward as an organization. As an organization, we have successfully sent a firefighter to FDIC in 2018 and 2019, with the 2019 scholarship being expanded to include the preconference HOT sessions, the conference itself, airfare, and hotel. In 2020, we expanded to the Journeyman Fire Conference in Virginia this past weekend, and continuing to improve the FDIC experience for our 2020 scholarship winner. However, as an organization, we also did not feel that simply asking for donations, sponsorships, and the public safety community to purchase our merchandise was truly demonstrating our mission of Service Before Self. Therefore, beginning this fiscal year, we will also be donating 10% of our sales of merchandise to other non profit organizations who are also striving to help those who serve their communities.
I would be truly honored and grateful if you were willing to partner with our organization and help financially support our mission to help improve the fire service through educational scholarships and building a culture of Service Before Self. I can be reached at 919-723-7346 to answer any of your questions.
Thank you again for your time, and I look forward to hearing from you.