On July 7, 2003 Hazleton City Deputy Fire Chief Gabriel A. Mhley lost his battle with cancer. After serving the City of Hazleton as a professional firefighter for 17 years, his passing called attention to the high risk of cancer and other illnesses caused by on-the-job exposure for first responders. In honor of Gabe’s service to his community, Foundation 58 was created.
Foundation 58 is a 501(c)3 nonprofit organization, established in memory of Deputy Fire Chief Gabriel A. Mhley, dedicated to providing support services to first responders throughout the United States. Foundation 58 seeks to educate first responders about health risks caused by duty related exposures, provide equipment and programs to prevent risks, and assist first responders facing a health crisis due to exposure.
Founded by Gabe’s son Justin, and his nephew Keith in April of 2005 the organization has awarded over $140,000 in grants to first responders battling cancer. The cancer risks grow every year. Firefighters today have a 9% higher chance of being diagnosed with cancer vs. general US population.
Because first responders experience high levels of stress and trauma in their work, a variety of mental health issues can emerge. With the increase of PTSD, suicide and drug and alcohol addition among first responders, Foundation 58 has now expanded its mission to aid all first responders in crisis including education, prevention and referral services.