The mother of Richard Sheltra, the Pineville volunteer firefighter killed in the line of duty in late April, says she’s proud a movement to honor first responders in her son’s name has spread across the country and beyond.
“I’m surprised at the swiftness of how fast it went,” Linay Sheltra told WBTV Wednesday. “All of a sudden it was, ‘hey, that’s a great idea. We’ll do it in Charlotte,’ and the next thing I know we’re listing only five states that haven’t got somebody. And then it was down to three states, and then it was down to one state. And then it was all fifty states have it going.”
Richard Sheltra, who was killed in the line of duty on April 30 while fighting a fire in Pineville, would have celebrated his 21st birthday Wednesday. In honor of his memory, the family is asking the public to take chocolate chip cookies - which they say Richard loved - to their local fire department, EMT’s or police departments.
Linay said the “Honor your local Fire Fighters“ movement was the brainchild of her niece.
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“Tyler, my daughter, and Richard always used to argue who ate the most cookies. It was always Richard of course... but yeah, it will be bittersweet,” the mother said.
“We often take for granted that these people do these jobs because they want to help people. They want to support people during the worst times of their lives,” the family wrote on the movement’s Facebook page.
Linay Sheltra echoed that sentiment while talking with WBTV Wednesday, on the eve of Richard’s 21st birthday.
“I had dinner with Richard Saturday night, the night he was killed, and we had a discussion on how people respect, or disrespect, the police, the fire, the medic, the ER doctors,” the mother said. “These guys run into burning buildings - they don’t care if you’re black, you’re white, Hispanic, legal, illegal, LGBT - they don’t care, they’re coming in to rescue you and save your life. And the police too... they don’t know what they’re walking into. But they don’t get the thanks they deserve.”
That “thanks,” she said, is what the movement is all about.
“This whole movement is about - let’s really thank these guys that put their lives on the line for our community, and every community across the country,” Linay Sheltra said.
She said the outpouring of support from across the country, but especially the Charlotte community, has been “amazing.”
“Our community is amazing. Our community definitely reaches out. I’ve never been so loved and taken care of by a community than Charlotte,” the mother said.
Aside from the “Honor your local Fire Fighters” campaign, the family has also started the “Richard Sheltra Memorial Fund,” which will go toward making sure firefighters have the proper gear and are properly educated, something Linay said her son was adamant about.
Richard Sheltra served the Pineville Volunteer Fire Department for three years.
Those who knew him said he had fire fighting in his blood, and had wanted the role since he was a child. In the last year, he received awards for Rookie of the Year and Most Training Hours from the department.