Fresno's Alisa Ann Ruch Burn Foundation celebrating 50 years

FRESNO, Calif. (KFSN) -- For 50 years, the Alisa Ann Ruch Burn Foundation has helped those impacted by burn injury. Not just survive, but thrive.

Central California Regional Manager McKenzie Dern says, "No one writes a book on how to get through it and the foundation wants to be that book for people. We want to be that support."

The non-profit is named after eight-year-old Alisa Ann, who was fatally injured in a barbeque accident. Her parents then turned their tragedy into a way to enhance the lives of survivors and their families navigating the healing process-- in addition to burn prevention through education.

Dern says, "I have a unique perspective because I'm not a burn survivor, but I'm a family member of a burn survivor."

McKenzie's father, Fresno Fire Captain Pete Dern, was severely injured battling a house fire. During his recovery, he started to volunteer as a counselor at the foundation's Champ Camp, a week-long adventure for burn survivors in Wonder Valley.

When McKenzie joined him, she says her life forever changed, as is the case for all who know the foundation.

Dern says, "We are all brought together by a tragic event and we support each other through it all. Campers have become counselors who then become staffers.

The non-profit's services go beyond Champ Camp. Every dollar raised goes toward regional events, weekend retreats and emotional and financial support.

Dern adds, "All of these events programs and assistance are 100% free to the families. We want to be there for them."

The non-profit reached close to 30,000 kids by partnering with local schools and fire departments for prevention education.

You can help the non-profit celebrate 50 years and continue its mission by attending this year's Dinner Dance.

"We are solely donation-based, so all the money that we raise goes towards the families and the services we provide them with throughout the year," McKenzie says.

The Dinner Dance is on December 11 and tickets are on sale now until December 4. You can buy tickets here.
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