WATERBURY, CT – Waterbury firefighter Bill D’Occhio has been training for weeks. “The gym five days a week; a lot of spinning,” he said. He’s also been schlepping to Bethlehem where farmer and Bethlehem V.F.D. chief Jon O’Neill has allowed him to ride his off-road bikes “twice a week” on pasture land.
Next week, D’Occhio will be in California to ride motorcycles in the 2017 World Police & Fire Games. Some 10,000 athletes representing law enforcement and fire companies from 70+ countries will compete in Los Angeles in more than 60 events.
D’Occhio will take two bikes with him. “I’m driving out there. They’re going in my truck,” he said, explaining that a Husqvarna FC450 will be used for motocross (two 20-minute races) and a Husqvarna TC250 will be used for the GP event (one 45-minute cross-country race).
Practice is scheduled for Aug. 14 with the motocross on Aug. 15 and the GP on Aug. 16 at Glen Helen Raceway in San Bernardino, Calif.
D’Occhio, 44, grew up riding dirt bikes. His father, Cosimo “Doc” D’Occhio, started Doc’s Motorcycles Parts in Waterbury. His brother, Mike, now runs the business. He raced for 20 years but not as much lately. “I’ve been off and on racing. I haven’t been able to take it very seriously,” he said.
But now he’s found a reason to get more serious. D’Occhio’s tackling the games to raise money for the Arthur C. Luf Children’s Burn Camp in Union. The camp is free for kids 8 to 18 who have suffered life-altering burns and scars. “It’s important these kids get the extra emotional and self-confidence support so they can get things back to normal. The burn camp addresses those needs,” he said.
As an 18-year firefighter, D’Occhio has witnessed the impact of fire. “You see the kids and you just feel so bad for the kids,” he said, adding that it’s natural for someone like himself to reach out and help burn victims. “As firemen, it’s important to be out in the community. You’re part of the community.”
D’Occhio said his quest has the support of the Waterbury Fire Department and his union, Local 1339 of the International Association of Fire Fighters.
He has also lined up a bunch of sponsors, who have pledged to donate a minimum of $100 up to $500 each, depending on how he finishes, for the camp. They include Global Machine Brokers, Durable Radiator, Atlantic Star Trailers, Roost Powersports, Labco School of Dental Assisting, The Gowans-Knight Co. and Doc’s Motorcycle Parts.
A GoFundMe site has already raised $1,500 to cover his expenses and he plans to make up the rest of his estimated $3,000 cost. All business and other donations will go to the camp and its burn victims. Anyone else who would like to donate may email D’Occhio at firstname.lastname@example.org.
D’Occhio served in the U.S. Marine Corps from 1993 to 1997 and was stationed at Camp Pendleton, so he has a lot of experience riding in southern California. “I’m familiar with the type of dirt that’s out there. I think I’ll remember how it was,” he said.
He certainly has a lofty goal for the games. “If I don’t make top three, I’ll be disappointed,” said D’Occhio, who plans to record videos of his races and post them on YouTube upon his return.
(Originally published in the “Republican-American” on July 29, 2017.)
And more support from Westport — their hockey tournament raised money to support the Children’s Burn Camp. Honored to receive a check from a few guys on the team, Pete Nichia & Pete Chila (Westport FD), Ed Burwell (FDNY) and Tim Reilly (Judicial Marshall). Who’s ready to take the ice? Actively looking for other teams for friendly competition
Woodbridge, CT – The 10th Annual Sports Celebrity Golf Tournament teed off to raise funds for the Arthur C. Luf Children’s Burn Camp August 26th at Country Club of Woodbridge in Woodbridge, CT.
Former UConn basketball star and NBA standout Chris Smith joined the field of 80 golfers along with Ryan Gomes, former Timberwolves star, and Willy Upshaw, former Blue Jays first baseman and hitting instructor for the Rangers and Giants. The field also included a rock star Neil Smith, the original drummer for Alice Cooper, the Rock’n’Roll Hall of Fame band.
John Gurga, a burn survivor who is working with the Connecticut Burns Care Foundation to restart the Teen Smart Choices Program, thanked golfers for helping to support the Children’s Burn Camp and how important it is for young burn survivors to know they can count donors’ generosity.
Sabel Public Adjusters of Bridgeport was the title sponsor for the second consecutive year. Chris Baxendale, Sabel Vice President, pledged his company’s ongoing support for the camp.
“We know how important the work is that the Children’s Burn Camp provides for young burn survivors, Baxendale said. “We plan to be part of this cause for a long time to come. It’s our honor.”
CBCF thanks The Milford Bank for being a major sponsor. United Restoration and Cleaning and Tim Cantafio of Northeast Electronics sponsored the lunch and beverage cart respectively while Unilever, Cambridge Dairy, and The Phoenix Society, International Association of Black Professional Fire Fighters were sponsors.
In a matching of cards, the team of Wayne Shepperd, John Brunjes, and Dave Mancuso won the tournament with a 63 (9 under)and the team of Tom Foldy, Jim Vargas, Dr. Mark Wilchinsky, and Judge Edward Rodriguez finished as runner up.
CBCF also thanks Jeff Aube for providing balls for the entire field of golfers.