‘Community is like no other’

Published 7:39 am Friday, October 5, 2018

Fire departments in Buckingham County went head-to-head in various competitions during a celebration and daylong event honoring the life and service of Thurston “Thor” Stish.

The second annual “Thor’s Hammer” competition took place at the Buckingham Agriculture Resource Network (BARN) Saturday.

After several competitions between Toga Volunteer Fire Department, last year’s winner Dillwyn Volunteer Fire Department, Glenmore Volunteer Fire Department and Arvonia Volunteer Fire Department that included Extrication Jenga, using extrication tools from the department to arrange life-sized Jenga pieces; firehose relays and water bucket relays, where firefighters took water buckets and climbed a ladder to a larger water bucket among others, Toga emerged victorious and won the 40-inch trophy designed by John Kronberg of Hollowing Creek Forge.

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Stish, 19 at the time of his death, served at Toga Volunteer Fire Department.

Also taking place during the event was a chili cook off competition that involved eight different teams. The Dillwyn Volunteer Fire Department Auxiliary received the title of making the best firehouse chili, Bhavani Metro received the title for best vegetarian chili, Daniel Stickman Jamerson and the Bell Road Boys earned Best Theme, Best Judged and Grand Champion. Toga Volunteer Fire Dept., Inc. earned the People’s Choice award.

Children’s activities including bouncy houses, live music from Tim Ryalls, a cakewalk competition for the best cake, a chance to look at the different fire trucks and rescue vehicles from the various departments, and pet two Dalmatians who are mascots at Dillwyn Volunteer Fire Department also took place.

Cassandra and George Stish, Thor’s parents, spoke during the competition and thanked the county for its support following their son’s death.

“I’m moved beyond words by the passion and generosity of this community,” Cassandra said. “The love and kindness that’s upheld us during the last almost three years.”

Cassandra said it was the willingness of volunteers and the various fire departments that is “turning our tragedy into something amazing for this community.”

Thor, Cassandra said about his role at the fire department, “had one job, and he crushed it.”

George said during the celebration that “this community is like no other” when it comes to uniting to support their neighbors.

Jordan Miles, the master of ceremonies for Thor’s Hammer, spoke about Thor’s background with Toga. Thor started volunteering with the department at 15 with his father and learning what it means to serve the community.

Miles compared Thor’s service and unexpected death to Presidential Candidate Robert Kennedy, who was assassinated in 1968.

“Each time a man stands up for an ideal, Kennedy said, or acts to improve the lot of others, or strikes out against injustice, he sends forth a tiny ripple of hope,” Miles said. “Think about the many, numerous times Thor stood up for what he thought was right and just.”

Miles spoke about the sacrifices made by firefighters in the county and as a whole.

“Our volunteer fire department members, no matter whether they’ve served the good people of Glenmore, Toga, Dillwyn or Arvonia, serve as leaders of this community,” Miles said. “Though the majority of them work while the sun is up to put food on their tables for their families, they work nights and leave their jobs, oftentimes more lengthy than their days. They hear their pagers sound. They see a text message. They answer a phone call, and they respond. It doesn’t matter who, when, where, why, but they respond. They respond without seeking accolade or admiration. They respond without reservation or rivalry, and they respond without prejudice or pretense. Here’s what they do respond with, just as Thor did: They respond dutifully with sacrifice, with loyalty, with bravery, respect and care.”

“In a world full of divides and stumbling blocks, there’s a very uniting and undividing concept that we can all embrace and embody today, and that’s duty to ourselves and to each other,” Miles said. “The willingness to take small steps to do for others … just as Thor did.”