Dennis J. Gardin reflects upon both the victories and struggles experienced from living with a physical difference, to illustrate the limitless ability we each possess to harness our natural gifts & talents to successfully navigate the storms of life.
Dennis was burned over 70% of his body in a horrific gasoline explosion as a child, resulting in an extensive hospitalization, dozens of surgeries and years of therapy and rehabilitation. Prolonged pain and profound disfigurement caused him to hide in isolation for years in the confines of his parent’s home, allowing his dreams to die and hopes to fade. But with the steadfast love of family/friends, he began to focus on the purpose for his life as he came to understand that real strength is seeking support when needed and true courage is not the absence of fear, but the willingness to move forward despite the obstacles.
Dennis has grown along his journey of self-discovery to become a successful businessman, professional speaker, ministrant, former television talk show host and radio personality, workshop facilitator and consultant working with a variety of organizations across the globe, in both the corporate and nonprofit sectors. He is currently privileged with the honor of serving in the capacity of Executive Director for the Georgia Firefighters Burn Foundation.
Dennis hopes to inspire individuals to face their inner-scars and self-limiting beliefs to begin creating an abundant, fulfilling life of purpose. His personal mission is to encourage people to connect into their personal reservoir of untapped potential and realize that the unlimited possibilities for life are in direct relation to unlimited thinking!
McKenzy Williams is the Children Services Director at Georgia Firefighters Burn Foundation (GFBF). In 2009, a service learning course at the University of Georgia offered McKenzy the opportunity to get involved with Summer Camp Oo-U-La while studying through the School of Social Work. McKenzy continued to volunteer with the camp program as she graduated through the University of Georgia's Masters in Social Work program with a focus in Community Empowerment and Program Development. In addition, she also holds a certificate in Nonprofit Management.
Dana Dillard is a Licensed Clinical Social Worker (LCSW) and the Programs Director at the Georgia Firefighters Burn Foundation (GFBF). Dana became involved with the GFBF in 2000 at Sumer Camp Oo-U-La® as part of a service learning course offered at the University of Georgia through the School of Social Work. She continued to remain an active volunteer over the years and in 2008 began her current position as the Programs Director. Dana has experience as both a medical social worker and a school social worker that she brings to her role at the GFBF. In addition, she was recently invited to join the faculty at Kennesaw State University where she teaches in the Masters of Social Work program as an adjunct professor. Dana received both her Bachelors of Arts in Psychology and her Master’s degree in Social Work from the University of Georgia.
Tim Key is the Recycling Coordinator for the Project REACH (Recycling Every Aluminum Can Helps) program at the Georgia Firefighters Burn Foundation (GFBF). In addition to Project REACH, Tim handles all maintenance issues for both the GFBF building and vehicles. Tim is a career firefighter with Cartersville Fire Department.
Venessa Walker is the Executive Administrator for the Georgia Firefighters Burn Foundation (GFBF). She began her career with the GFBF over 19 years ago through an internship at DeKalb Technical Institute from which she graduated. In addition to her administrative responsibilities, she also oversees the GFBF’s largest source of revenue, the “Give Burns the Boot”® Campaign, now in its 25th year. The “boot drive” as it is also referred to, employs the volunteer support of thousands of firefighters across Georgia who take to the streets or other parts of their fire department communities, with boots in hand to raise money for the GFBF.
Top Dog of Fire Safety
Sparky the Fire Dog®
Sparky the Fire Dog® began in 1951 as a symbol for teaching kids and families how to stay safe from fire. If there’s a chance to practice fire safety, you can bet Sparky will be there to help! From games, songs, coloring and more, Sparky always has a safety message for you.