It was hot inside a ballroom at Jungle Island Wednesday afternoon. That’s where 20 of South Florida’s finest firefighters were letting loose on the stage.
One after another, the guys put on a show for screaming ladies - hoping for their vote to make it into the 2014 South Florida Firefighters Calendar.
“It is fun, but these guys are not dancers. They’re not models. They’re not actors. They are firefighter paramedics,” calendar founder Lt. Luis Espinosa said. “Sometimes you see a little stage fright and jitters.”
Someone who did it last year, Davie firefighter Matt Freeman offered the new guys trying out some advice.
“Sell yourself,” Freeman said. “Give these ladies a show. They want to see a show.
The first contestant to take the stage was Miami-Dade firefighter Henry Wong. He handed out roses to “Let’s Get It On.” The crowd liked it, he was voted into next year’s calendar, along with 14 others. Each contestant got to pick a song and some did a little dancing to earn their votes.
“I’m looking for a very personable firefighter who’s very friendly and outgoing,” Michelle Wilson said. “Of course, I’m looking for a hot body. Everybody’s looking for those too.”
In the end, it is all for charity and it’s something these guys love to be a part of.
“Remember everything we do is for charity,” Big Al, AKA Mr. January 2013 said. “Being a firefighter, you have to be able to sacrifice and this is what we do.”
To Freeman, it's also a chance to reach out to the community.
“You get to meet a lot of different people and make a lot of new friends doing this,” Freeman added. “It’s a great opportunity.”
In 20 years, the calendar has raised more than a quarter of a million dollars. This year’s special edition even sold out.
Now, the 2013 calendar models are turning their reign over to the new guys - in hopes of helping South Florida, one topless firefighter photo at a time.
The three charities supported are Here’s Help Inc., A Safe Haven for Newborns, and Friends Forever Humane Society. Here’s Help is a behavior modification program with a self-help approach for young men dealing with substance abuse problems. Safe Haven began in response to the tragedy of newborn abandonment in Florida. It allows people to drop newborns off at a fire station or police station, no questions asked, so they can be adopted. Friends Forever rescues, rehabilitates and finds homes for unwanted dogs.
For more information about the calendar and the three charities they support, log onto www.firefighterscalendar.com.
The firefighters who made the cut and will be in the 2014 issue are:
- Henry Wong, Miami-Dade
- Hector Alfonso, Miami-Dade
- Manny Martinez, Miami-Dade
- Robert Ortega, Miami-Dade
- Kenny Kovac, East Lake (near Tampa)
- Jose Rodriguez, Miami-Dade
- Andy Suarez, Miami-Dade
- Adam Madore, Miami Beach
- Pete Marrero, Miami-Dade
- Erick Gonzalez, Miami-Dade
- Jamal Clarke, Lauderhill
- Joseph Garcia, Lauderhill
- Jonathan Santis, Hollywood
- Michael Korte, Broward Sheriff’s Office
- Russel Fialo, Hollywood
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