Ever since she can remember, Sydney Watson, a 2012 Highlands graduate, has had a desire to follow her family calling of public service.
With a new job as a marketing representative at 1-800-BoardUp, the largest disaster responder network for emergency board up, restoration and repair, Watson is helping organize the company’s first fundraiser, Remembering the Fallen, that will benefit the National Fallen Firefighters Foundation (NFFF) at Topgolf in West Chester on March 4.
“I grew up at the Southgate Volunteer Fire Department; literally, we lived a block from the firehouse,” said Watson.
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The daughter of Mike and Sheila Watson, both former volunteer EMT/Firefighters and executive board members at the Southgate Volunteer Fire Department, Sydney has fire service in her blood. Her maternal grandfather, Jerry Monroe, retired from Fort Thomas Fire Department as a captain, and her great-grandparents, Alan and Betty Wells were volunteers in Taylor Mill where Betty was one of the founding women of the department’s life squad. On her father's side, firefighting originated with her grandfather, Wayne Watson, who has been a member of the Southgate Volunteer Fire Department for more than 40 years. Her father Mike, a Fort Thomas firefighter and paramedic is one of nine family members who chose fire service as a career path or to dedicate to serve their community as a volunteer.
"With our family history in the fire service, the fact that Sydney is working in a field that supports firefighters, their families and the victims of fires makes me proud everyday. I know the success of the Remembering The Fallen event is very important to her, not only because it is her job, but because of her commitment to the community and the opportunity to give back to the families that have lost their loved ones in a line of duty death. Ever since she was a little girl, she has had a big heart and has loved life," said Watson’s mother, Sheila.
Currently Sydney serves as secretary of the Southgate Fire Department Auxiliary alongside her grandmother Marlene Watson who is president and her cousin, Vice President Chelsie Shay.
"Some may think being a firefighter is just a career choice. To us, it's a family business and way of life," Watson said.
To no surprise, Watson landed this job after graduating from Eastern Kentucky University this past year with a Bachelor of Business Administration in Marketing with a concentration in Marketing Research and Analytics.
1-800-BoardUp, a franchised company owned by Teasdale Fenton secures buildings after fire or structural damage to prevent injury and protect victim's valuables.
When approached about the open position, Watson was told they were looking for someone who had marketing experience to help promote the company into new markets.
"Although I didn't have any real world experience in marketing, they were ecstatic when finding out my family history in fire service, Watson said.
After learning more about the position, I couldn't say no to such an amazing opportunity. I chose this career because it pushes me to come out of my comfort zone, to help me grow as a professional and individual and to serve in the fire service in my own way. I gain experience everyday from my co-workers, a lot of whom are retired firefighters. How great is it to have a job that lets you visit fire departments everyday and talk with heroes?
I wanted to help contribute to fire service in some way during my lifetime; I was just blessed that this opportunity came my way."
For the first time, 1-800-BoardUp has launched this official 2018 fundraising partnership supporting the National Fallen Firefighters Foundation (NFFF), a nonprofit organization whose mission is to honor and remember America’s fallen fire heroes and to provide free resources to assist survivors in rebuilding their lives and work within the fire service community to reduce firefighter deaths and injuries. Just in the tristate area in the past 30 years, there have been 20 fire-related firefighter deaths.
Watson is looking for sponsors, donations and groups or individuals who want to come out and support a great cause while having a good time as it is designed for everyone – not just golfers.
1-800-BoardUp Director of Emergency Services and retired Cincinnati Firefighter Dan Mitsch said, "It was one of our team members dream to step out and raise money for the families for fallen firefighters. Unfortunately things happen, so we decided to make this happen for him. Sydney had just came on at that time, and she was very interested in moving this forward."
The fundraiser is in honor of Alan “Chip” Terry, a firefighter for 27 years who retired as assistant chief of Covington Fire Department and was Director of Emergency Services at 1-800-BoardUp. Terry passed away in September 2017.
For more information or to donate to this cause, contact Sydney Watson at firstname.lastname@example.org.