Announcing the Florida State Elks Association
Firefighter of the Year
The Elks honor one of its own for the inaugural Firefighter of the Year Award – Bonita Springs PER Jeff Morse.
Jeff’s work history with the fire service began in Rochester, Massachusetts. He started as a volunteer firefighter and worked his way through the ranks to Deputy Chief. To fulfill his dream of becoming a full-time firefighter, Jeff and his wife Candy moved to Florida where he worked for the Oviedo Fire Department. In 2001, he began his career with the North Naples Fire Department which is still his home station today. Starting as a firefighter, Jeff currently holds the rank of Lieutenant. He has received numerous awards and continues to attend classes and lectures to help his department, co-workers and community.
But it is Jeff’s community work where he distinguishes himself.
In 2007, a group of North Naples firefighters wanted to honor nine members of the Charleston, South Carolina Fire Department who perished in the line of duty on June 18, 2007. Their desire to help the families of these brave professionals resulted in the creation of the Brotherhood Ride with Jeff as its president.
The Brotherhood Ride consists of firefighters, law enforcement officers and emergency medical responders, who ride bicycles throughout Florida and other states up to 600 miles in a week’s time, to bring attention to those who bravely died and to provide emotional and financial support to their families. To date, The Ride has raised and donated over $359,000 for these families.
In 2015 alone, 56 riders traveled 1,166 miles through 8 states in just 14 days to honor 37 first responders who died in 2014. Each year they travel a different route to make sure that no fallen first responder is forgotten. Other than the cost of conducting the rides, all donated proceeds go directly to the beneficiaries. No rider is compensated for their time in order to maximize the impact of donations to those in need.
Elks Lodges in Florida and in other states are also a big part of these rides by offering overnight lodging, food and emotional support for the riders. Perhaps Jeff says it best in honoring his fallen comrades before each ride:
“So stand down my brother, you have completed your shift.
Let our legs carry your memory and remind all who will listen that you gave your life to save a total stranger.”