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Pictured, from left, are Buckhannon Fire Chief JB Kimble, UCDA assistant director and winner Brandon Tenney, Rose Sinclair with Feed My Sheep and Lisa George, director of Feed My Sheep. (Photo by Katie Kuba)

Winner of ‘Ruck Ruck Rudolph’ contest donates over $430 to the local nonprofit Feed My Sheep

BUCKHANNON – You may have heard the famous Christmas tune, “Run Run Rudolph,” originally performed by rock and roll legend Chuck Berry, but have you heard of “Ruck Ruck Rudolph”?

A friendly, physical fitness competition pioneered by the Buckhannon Fire Department, Ruck Ruck Rudolph was a 31-day competition that extended throughout December where firefighters – and some non-firefighters – donned weighted vests while walking many miles.

Fourteen individuals participated, and whoever walked the most miles – while wearing a vest weighing at least 20 pounds – was deemed the winner and got to choose a charitable organization to donate the $434 collected in entry fees.

“It started out as a fire department thing, but we found out that more people in the community wanted to get involved, so we kept the fire department competition going, but we also figured that if we opened it up to more people in the community that we could provide more to an organization,” Buckhannon Fire Chief JB Kimble said last week.

On Thursday, Jan. 11, the competition’s winner, Brandon Tenney, and the fire department donated the $434 collected in entry fees to to Feed My Sheep Food Outreach, Inc.

Kimble explained that Tenney, the assistant director of the Upshur County Development Authority, won by completing 186.5 miles while wearing a weighted rucksack-like vest.

“You could put on as much as you wanted to, but it had to be at least 20 pounds,” Kimble said.

In total, participants walked 808.5 miles, with career firefighters Maria Potter and Shane Jenkins tying for first place within the department.

“The thought process, in the beginning, was that there are 31 days in December, so it was an entry fee of $31 to be in on it, and whoever completed the most mileage could provide this money to the organization of their choosing,” Kimble said.

A mixture of firefighters, county employees, UCDA employees, and county commissioners participated, including Brandon Tenney, Commissioner Kristie Tenney, Upshur County Parks and Recreation Director Jeremiah McCourt, and Upshur County Building Permit Officer Terri Jo Bennett.

Kimble said it was a win for the fire department, Feed My Sheep and the community as a whole.

“The number one reason for this was it creates a sense of camaraderie and friendly competition within the fire department,” Kimble said. “Every time you put camaraderie in the mix, everybody partakes, and everybody’s competitive.”

It also spurs firefighters to improve their physical fitness and overall physical/mental health and well-being.

“Every career (paid) fire department member is required to work out on their shift for 45 minutes,” he said.

The ability to carry weight while in motion is crucial because when battling a fire, firefighters must move quickly while wearing their turnout gear, which, combined with air packs and other equipment, amounts to about 56 pounds, Kimble said.

Tenney said he enjoyed the competition and chose to donate the cash to Feed My Sheep because he wanted to highlight the important work the organization is doing in the county.

Located at the corner of Brushy Fork and Stony Run roads beside Faith Tabernacle Church in Buckhannon, Feed My Sheep is a food outreach ministry led by director Lisa George and health and safety officer Rose Sinclair.

“We also do clothing, we do a diaper bank, we do Monday meals, and we do lunch on Wednesday for the Christian School,” George said. “We have various programs throughout the year.”

Two of those programs include a backpack initiative and a collection/distribution of Christmas gifts for at-risk kids, older adults and veterans.

Other regularly occurring services include:

  • Meals on the second and fourth Mondays of each month starting at 4 p.m. Seniors and veterans go first from 4 to 4:30 p.m., and then the general public starts at 4:30 p.m.
  • Every fourth Saturday, a mass distribution of food begins at 9 a.m.

George said the organization, which assists about 2,780 people a month, also supplies food and necessities to people as needed.

“During the week, if anybody’s in need of food or something else, they can just come in between the hours of 9 a.m. and 6 p.m.,” she said. “They can get food and diapers, and we have lots of different other things like cleaning supplies, health and beauty products and household items.”

To learn more about Feed My Sheep, its services or how to get involved with the effort, email fmsfo23@aol.com or visit its website.

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