About Us

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Northwest Fire Velo - Firefighters cycling for veterans & first responders.

About Us

Northwest Fire Velo

Mission Statement:
NW Fire Velo is Firefighters winning the hearts of Americans through cycling for veterans and first responders, honoring those who sacrifice for our freedoms and our safety.

About Us:
Northwest Fire Velo is a nonprofit organization of Northwest United States professional and retired IAFF firefighters. As a fire department-based cycling organization, NW Fire Velo shall support severely wounded Veterans & First Responders, cancer awareness, provide firefighter wellness and to promote fund raising for other nonprofit organizations and specific causes.

Interested in becoming a member? Click here to join.

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Why we ride....

Northwest Fire Veloís monumental fundraising events and the vision to ride started with a Central Washington native, US Marine Corps, Sgt. Ret. Nick Kimmel, his father Rick and a family friend and founding Board Member, Rich Smith of the Bellevue Fire Department. Nick, who is one of the most severely wounded heroes and a recipient of an adapted smart home from the R.I.S.E. program wanted to give back to the Gary Sinise Foundation for the amazing support in regaining his independence. Thus creating Fire Fighters Ride for RISE (FFR4R).

In 2017, six firefighters came together to ride as FFR4R from Seattle to Los Angeles. The success of this inaugural firefighter ride created the dream of a nonprofit firefighter cycling club known as Northwest Fire Velo. Since 2017, the Gary Sinise Foundationís RISE Program has received over $70,000 from FFR4R and Northwest Fire Velo.

Gary Sinise started helping veterans like Nick soon after his role as Lieutenant Dan in the award-winning movie Forrest Gump. After the horrific attacks of September 11th 2001, he created his own foundation to help our nationís most severely wounded veterans and first responders. His R.I.S.E. program was develop... Read More

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A message from our President

I am proud to be President of Northwest Fire Velo, a non-profit started by firefighters that is dedicated to assisting veterans and first responders.

We are providing a source of funding for much needed programs and resources for those who are severely injured or disabled while protecting our nation and communities. Through our passion of cycling, we are building a link between the people within our communities and firefighters from around our northwest region to raise money.

Additionally, we are providing a mental health release for our riders through our many cycling events. As firefighters, we have earned the trust of the community. As Northwest Fire Velo we will honor that trust, as we promote and give back to our nationís defenders and first responders.

Our integrity will welcome sponsors and citizens alike to join us as we bring awareness to programs and resources that our partner foundations are providing to veterans and first responders across the nation. This is why we ride!

Tom Sowards

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Board Members

Tom Sowards - Board President

Lieutenant Ė Renton Regional Fire Authority, Age 53.

In 1987 I entered the Navy and served 5 years aboard the Battleship USS New Jersey BB-62 and the USS Implicit. I started my professional firefighting career in February of 1991. Promoted in 2016, to Lieutenant. I was mentored into the fire service by my two uncles in the Seattle Fire Department.

I was Married in 1988 to my best friend Traci who together we raised two great kids, Jessalynn, 29 and Cameron, 27. My Granddaughter Paisley is 9 months old and ready to give Jessalynn & Zac a taste of toddlerhood.

My cycling passion started from racing motocross as a kid and transferring to mountain bikes as an adult. That grew into over 25 years of racing both mountain and road bicycles which I now use to raise awareness to severely wounded veterans and first responders across the nation.

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Kevin McIntyre - Vice President of Riding

Lieutenant/Paramedic Ė Central Pierce Fire & Rescue, Age 61.

I knew as a young boy I was destined for the fire service, as my father and uncle both
worked for Long Beach Fire-CA which was the department I started in 37 years ago. I have been with Central Pierce Fire & Rescue since 1993. Achieved rank of Assistant Chief (Training Division) 2015-2017.

Iím married with 3 adult children and 2 grandchildren. Outside of work I serve in several ministries at my church and I serve on the board of directors for Tacoma/Pierce County Chaplaincy. I have been a 'recreational' cyclist since my teens, but it wasnít until I was in my 40ís that I became passionate about cycling.

I raced competitively for almost 20 years when I felt the importance of giving back to the sport through fundraising for worthy causes. I feel blessed to be a part of NW Fire Velo and look forward to continued awareness for veterans and first responders.

My favorite saying is... 'You donít slow down because you get old, you get old because you slow down'.

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Rich Smith - Vice President of Sponsorships

Firefighter Ė Bellevue Fire Dept.

I have been a professional firefighter for 20 years. I am married to a wonderful woman and have two kids. In my free time you can find me enjoying the spectacular Pacific Northwest outdoors or playing hockey.

Since I did not serve in the military, I have an opportunity to serve those that did and do. I enjoy the riding for a good cause and spending time on the road with my friends and meeting new people along the way.

Being part of NW Fire Velo is a privilege and an honor.

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Bryan Hoon - Treasurer

Firefighter - East Pierce Fire Rescue, Age 48

I have been in the fire service 15 years, with 13 years as a professional firefighter.

I have a beautiful wife, Ommy, and together we have an amazing, blended family of 5 kids ranging from 10-26 years old and two beautiful granddaughters. My stepson Joshua is currently serving in the United States Army.

I have been into cycling since I was a child, going on long rides with my uncle and riding BMX around the neighborhood. I have been competing for about 20 years with my favorite discipline being cross country mountain biking.

I love cycling for the physical fitness, mental toughness and social outlet it provides. I am so grateful for the opportunity to combine my passions of firefighting and cycling to serve those who serve with this great group of people at NW Fire Velo!

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Ellen Stephens - Secretary

I grew up in Tacoma and attended Central Washington University. I have degrees in Business Administration, Marketing and minor in Computer Science. I returned to school to get my Paralegal degree as well.

I started my marketing career in print media with a local newspaper and then moved to shopping centers for marketing and events. I worked at the largest shopping center in Washington State. I also spent time doing marketing and events for cable television working for TCI, AT&T and Comcast.

As a paralegal, I have worked for small firms and in the courtrooms for Municipal and Superior Courts. I married into the fire service.

My husband and I have a wonderful dog, a Chesapeake Bay Retriever named Ben. I love the outdoors, avid half marathon runner, cyclist and cooking for the fire station crews. I grew up in a family with parents who saw the value in the service industry and giving back to the community. And as a proud firefighter wife and wife of a veteran; NW Fire Velo is a great avenue to support our first responders and veterans.

... Read More

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The Wounded Marine Fund

I wanted to thank you for all your hard work in support of The Wounded Marine Fund. COVID basically shut down our fundraising efforts for 2020 until you guys stepped up a made this entire fundraising opportunity available.

You should know that NW Fire Veloís efforts will close out the funding for Cpl. Christopher Van Ettenís Grant and will fund a grant for a 2nd Combat Wounded Marine Amputee to be named shortly.

You guys truly have made a difference in a couple of Marines lives and I thank you from the bottom of my heart.

Tweed Fox
The Wounded Marine Fund
Semper Fi

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Sixes River, Oregon

As one of the longest standing members of the Sixes Rural Fire Protection District, I can truthfully say that there is hardly a person or nonprofits we are more indebted to than Mr. Tom Sowards with the firefighter cycling nonprofit Northwest Fire Velo and their connection to The Gary Sinise Foundation. He and the 2017 Firefighters Ride 4 RISE cyclists opened our eyes to the wonderful organization that is The Gary Sinise Foundation and all the amazing things they do for our veterans and first responders.
Additionally, Tom went above and beyond the call when he spearheaded our departmentís receipt of 25 brand new firefighting turnouts from the Gary Sinise Foundation. Without Mr. Sowards, The Firefighters Ride 4 Rise, and the Gary Sinise Foundation, we would still be fighting fire in very questionably safe turnouts and putting our health and lives unnecessarily at more risk. We owe so much to these organizations and the people who run them: our new turnouts were truly nothing short of miraculous for our small but dedicated crew.
The lives they have touched is something that cannot be put into actual words, and we are forever grateful for your selflessness, your friendship, and yo... Read More

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