Grief in Progress​

A New Podcast Series from the National Fallen Firefighters Foundation

Episode Two

Ryan Woitalewicz was just four years old when he lost his dad Kenny, a volunteer firefighter in Nebraska. When Ryan attended his first NFFF Kids Camp for children ages 7-17, Illinois Fire Chief Chad Hoefle was assigned as his Big Buddy—a mentorship match that has stood the test of time. Over the years, Ryan and Chad returned to camp together until Ryan reached age 18. And the “found family” they created continues, as the two celebrate milestone events such as Ryan completing his education and becoming a teacher. They remain in close contact and enjoy any opportunity to talk about Ryan’s father and finding meaning in his loss.

About Grief in Progress

Everyone’s journey through grief is unique. But shared stories can be a powerful tool of hope for those who have experienced sudden loss. Grief in Progress inspires listeners with messages of resilience from peers who have found their own ways to cope. The compelling episodes feature one-on-one conversations with spouses, children, and life partners of fallen firefighters—but the perspectives they share will resonate with anyone dealing with grief. Through the generosity of these Fire Hero Families, the open dialogue focuses on contemporary issues of grief and offers strategies to promote healing. Most of all, Grief in Progress inspires new ways of seeing the world and connecting with others after tragic loss.

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