Panama City Beach Fire Rescue launches a fundraiser, as a way to help the family of their co-worker and friend, Chris Whitmore.
Whitmore died suddenly from undetermined causes, earlier this month.
They created bracelets to help remember the man, who they refer to as their brother. They were surprised when in quickly turned into much more than they expected.
"Chris Whitmore, he was a great guy," said Brandon Mumford, Firefighter/EMT. "When he passed, us as fire fighters.. We lost a brother."
They say there has been a void at the Fire Department, ever since Whitmore's passing.
"Chris was an avid simmer," said Mumford. "He was one of our rescue swimmers so especially the days that we have double red flags. We think about him every time we get a water call now, because it would be him going in the water and right now he's not."
They created bracelets as a way to remember him as a friend. It was an after-thought to sell them for donations.
The bracelet displays Chris's name and nick name on one side. The other side has a Maltese cross, his helmet number, and an American flag, to symbolize his service with the Fire Department and the Air force.
The project has turned into something much greater than originally planned.
"So, far this project has just kind of taken off," said Heath Anderson, Firefighter/Paramedic. "Originally it was going to be between the firehouse and the people that Chris worked for in the county. We realized we could help the family out in a much bigger way through a little bit of money."
"We have posted on Facebook and we've had many calls and emails from citizens inquiring about purchasing the bracelets," said Mumford. "We've even had people from as far as Arizona call and ask if we could ship armbands to them."
The money raised will go directly to Whitmore's family.
"His kids are starting school, Chris had 3 young kids. So, any help they can get right now is going to be greatly appreciated."
They also have an account set up for donations at Tyndall Federal Credit Union in the name of Andrew Whitmore. Their phone number in (850)-769-9999.