Fundraiser focuses on firefighters' health

CHARLESTON, S.C. (WCIV) - Lowcountry firefighters raised money and awareness on Saturday to help make their health a priority in their profession.

Firefighting crews gathered at the Chief John Winn fundraising event at the Elks Lodge in West Ashley. Chief John Winn passed away in May from mesothelioma - a cancer caused by exposure to asbestos.

Winn was a firefighter for more than 35 years. Before his death, Winn wanted to spread awareness about his disease. Now his son JJ and his fellow firefighters are pushing for early screenings that could save lives.

"That's right he had mesothelioma and they did not find it until the third stage and we believe that with proper scannings and x-rays that our young firefighters in particular will have a chance to find these kinds of things, not only mesothelioma but other things that may be threatening to their lives and it's Chief Winn's legacy and it was his wish that we do this," said Gerald Mishoe of the Charleston Firefighter Support Team .

Money raised at Saturday's fundraiser goes toward the 'Big John' project, named after Chief John Winn. The program's goal is to raise awareness for firefighters' health.