The Story of Miguel Sandavol.
We were recently contacted by Miguel who was looking to raise money for The Leukemia and Lymphoma Society in a way that really got our attention. We knew right away that we wanted to get involved and help support Miguel’s cause. I personally got the opportunity to meet with Miguel to learn more about his story and his mission. I’ll tell you, I was not disappointed.
I first met up with Miguel outside of Gowen Field in Boise Idaho and he escorted me onto base and to his station where he gave me a full tour of the facility and introduced me to his crew. Once we finished that we got to sit down and chat for a bit and I’ll tell you, I feel rather fortunate and humbled to be able to share our conversation with you.
Have a read!
-Rhino Rush’s AJ-
“So Miguel, Do you mind starting by just kind of telling me a bit about yourself?”
(I admit, at this point I was so hypnotized by the magnificent mustache Miguel was displaying that I had forgotten what questions I wanted to ask.)
-Sandoval – “I grew up in Lancaster, California… Is that what you mean?”
-AJ – “(snapping out of my mustachioed mesmerization and focusing on the conversation at hand) Right, er… Can you tell me about the road that brought you to becoming a Firefighter with the United States Air Force?”
-Sandoval – “Got ya. Well like I said, I grew up in Lancaster, California. While in JR High I was involved in an after school program where I would do ride alongs with LA County Fire Dept. My mentor had an Air Force background and had encouraged me to look into it as career opportunity. I joined the Air Force in 2002 and was guaranteed a firefighter position.”
-AJ – “And how did you end up here in Idaho?”
-Sandoval – “I completed the Louis F. Garland Fire Academy (DoD Fire Academy) in San Angelo, Texas and was assigned to Mountain Home AFB as my first duty station. Being from California, it took a little getting used to but I ultimately fell in love with Idaho.”
-AJ – “Yeah, it does have a way of growing on you. So it sounds like you have been able to carve out a way to tie your passions all together, huh?“
-Sandoval – “Yeah, I eventually transitioned into the Idaho Air National Guard. I am a full time State employee at Gowen Field Fire Department, which is where I also fulfill my Guard Drill status. I have been on a couple deployments both on the active duty side and the Air National Guard side. I find that aspect of being in the service very rewarding. I’m looking forward to our next assignment, wherever that may take us.”
“So what do you do when you’re not saving the world?”
(and making me question my own level of manliness…)
-Sandoval – “I like to be outside whenever possible. My favorite activity is mountain biking. I started racing the Idaho Enduro Series a couple years back and fell in love with it even more. The Boise mountain biking community has a great group of people. Hiking, camping and lake lounging are some of the other activities I enjoy. I like to take my motorcycle out for long rides and cruises.
My winter activities generally include snowboarding, snowshoeing and hitting up the hot springs. I like to try new things. Just got the opportunity to go snowmobiling for the first time and it was a blast!! I still have whitewater rafting, skydiving and jet boating on my bucket list. “
“Tell me about the SCOTT Firefighter Stairclimb”
-Sandoval – “The Scott Firefighter Stairclimb is the world’s largest on-air stair climb competition at the Columbia Center in downtown Seattle. We compete in full combat gear weighing close to 50 pounds.There are 69 flights of stairs, 1,356 steps, and 788 ft. of vertical elevation gain.”
-AJ – “Wow! That has to be extremely difficult.”
-Sandoval – “Sure it will be challenging, but it pales in comparison to what blood cancer patients must go through.”
-AJ – “And that’s what this is really about, correct?”
-Sandoval – “All proceeds benefit The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society. The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society (LLS) is the world’s largest voluntary health organization dedicated to funding blood cancer research, education and patient services.
The mission of LLS is to cure leukemia, lymphoma, Hodgkin’s disease and myeloma, and improve the quality of life of patients and their families.
Since its founding in 1949, LLS has invested nearly $1 billion to advance cancer therapies and save lives.”
-AJ – “That’s really an amazing cause you’re doing this for. Is this your first time participating in this event?“
-Sandoval – “Actually, this will be my third year participating in the climb.”
-AJ – “Man Miguel, on behalf of Rhino Rush and really everyone that is effected by these types of blood cancer I just want to say Thank You. What is it that draws you to do this year over year?“
-Sandoval – “There’s a handful of reasons. Meeting new people from different nations(yes, nations), states, cities and departments. I enjoy the camaraderie. It brings us together as we help with finding a cure for cancer.
Cancer is the most dangerous threat to firefighter health and safety today. Cancer caused 61 percent of the career firefighter line-of-duty deaths from January 1, 2002, to March 31, 2017, according to data from the International Association of Fire Fighters (IAFF). Heart disease caused 18 percent of career LODDs for the same period.
These firefighters are family, it’s a brotherhood so of course it hits home for me.”
-AJ – “I can see how that would hit home for sure. Again, Thank you so much for what you are doing and also thank you for allowing Rhino Rush to be a part of it.
Is there anything else you’d like me to pass on for you?”
-Sandoval – “I want to say thank you to all the people that support us and that have donated. If you would like to donate I would be forever grateful. Again thank you to all.”