SWANSEA — The family of a Swansea firefighter killed in a car crash last April is honoring his memory by starting a nonprofit that aims to help the families of emergency personnel who die outside the line of duty.
Brett Korves, 30, of St. Jacob, was killed on his way to work in St. Louis County when a man fleeing from police collided with Korves’ car.
His family aims to channel its loss into something positive, and so it’s working to launch Brett’s First Responders, a nonprofit that would offer financial aid to families of first responders who have died outside the line of duty. The family also hopes to offer scholarships to aspiring firefighters, but first they have to receive approval from Illinois officials to become a 501(c)(3).
“It’s a lot, but anyone who knew my brother would tell you he was a really hard worker,” said his sister, Kayla Bishop. “If he was working on this, he’d tell us, ‘Get to work, let’s get this done.’ "
Korves is the third generation to fight fires in his family. He volunteered with the Swansea Fire Department, in addition to working two jobs and racing stock cars. He worked hard to support his wife, Alex, and his young son, Brock, his family said. Two weeks after his death, his wife discovered she was pregnant. The baby, a girl, was born in December and was named after her father.
“I can say wholeheartedly that if he knew about his (daughter) that he would have been thrilled,” Bishop said. “I think she was his gift to us. We didn’t get to say goodbye to him, but we got to say hello to her.”
Bishop and her brother Todd Korves hope that Brett’s First Responders will help fill in the gap where another nonprofit group, Backstoppers, can’t. Backstoppers assists first responders killed in the line of duty. Since Brett Korves was killed while off duty, his family relied on the kindness of the Swansea Fire Department and its wide network of friends and supporters.
“We want to be able to kind of give back to everybody in the same way some people have given to us,” Todd Korves said. “We want to be able to help people who were not able to get as much support as our family was ... We want to help people with funeral costs or day care or when their hot water heater goes out, or their roof goes bad.”
The family so far has raised over $700 on Gofundme. After they obtain official status as a nonprofit and nail down their board of directors, they’ll be able to expand their efforts, family members said.
“Brett was a very giving person, and he would do pretty much anything for anybody,” Todd Korves said. “We figured a foundation (in his memory) was pretty much a no-brainer.”
The man who authorities say hit Brett Korves’ car, Nicholas Washington, faces a charge of second-degree murder, as well as a count of resisting arrest. The case has not yet gone to trial.
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