911 At Ease International recently raised $2 million to support first responders with its Fun with the Force event.
Hundreds of people attended this year’s fundraising party, which featured live entertainment, a flyover memorial for law enforcement officers who died in the line of duty and food and beverages from vendors across Santa Barbara County.
911 AEI Co-Founder Michael Armand Hammer and his wife, Misty, matched the $1 million in proceeds raised during the event.
“We’ve served thousands of people and we’re growing,” Mr. Hammer said in a news release. “I will always support (At Ease), because I believe in it.”
911AEI provides free counseling and therapy to first responders, including firefighters, law enforcement, service members, emergency medical workers, dispatchers and other emergency first responders and their immediate families.
“The more people that become aware of At Ease International and what it provides for our first responders, they want to be a part of it,” explained James Nigro, a 911 AEI board member.
At Ease helps first responders such as Santa Barbara County Fire Capt. Bryan Fernandez.
“For so long we focused on physical health and other aspects of the job,” he said. “After the debris flows and some of the larger fires and other incidents, we saw the elements we weren’t addressing as firefighters in our mental health.”
The Santa Barbara Police Foundation, which provides support for injured, disabled or catastrophically ill police officers or employees of the Santa Barbara Police Department and their families, co-sponsored the Fun with The Force event.