Chance to Run with Responders During FIREFEST 2023 and FireFit Team Windsor Unveiled

Organizers of FIREFEST 2023 are inviting resident runners to join them on a five-kilometre (5K) route along Riverside Drive on Saturday September 9, 2023.

Nearly five hundred individual runners and walkers of all ages are expected to take part in this unique first responder—themed charity run celebrating all frontline service providers.

Windsor Fire Chief Stephen Laforet, Windsor Police Service Chief Jason Bellaire, and Essex-Windsor Emergency Medical Services (EMS) Chief Bruce Krauter were joined by race coordinators on the riverfront today to announce the inaugural “Run With Responders 5K” as a new event to support FIREFEST 2023 and local charities.

"For 2023, our charities are Canadian Mental Health Association-Windsor-Essex County (CMHA-WECB) and Law Enforcement Torch Relay for Special Olympics Ontario, with 100% of the proceeds to benefit these two important charitable organizations,” said co-organizer Dave Orshinsky.

Dave Orshinsky, Wil Hodgins and Gary Belanger are the organizers of the charity 5K, which will be a rain or shine event.

Race-day registration begins at 7:30 a.m. with the run to start at 9 a.m. sharp. All runners in the 5K will receive a high-quality event t-shirt and finisher’s medal. Entry fees are $50 for the 5K run and $20 for a one-kilometre (1K) run or Kids Dash.

Funds raised will support ongoing mental health education, training and awareness as part of the Sole Focus Project of the Canadian Mental Health Association. Many sessions are geared toward helping professionals like first responders, medical professionals, youth and caregivers.

“Mental health is key to our well-being, and we can’t be truly healthy without it,” said Canadian Mental Health Association’s Kim Willis. “It involves how we feel, think, act, and interact with the world around us. Mental health is about realizing our potential, coping with the normal stresses of life, and making a contribution to our community.”

The Law Enforcement Torch Run for Special Olympics (LETR) engages law enforcement officers worldwide, championing acceptance and inclusion for people with intellectual disabilities, starting first with their own communities.

The presenting partners of the “Run With Responder 5K” event are WFCU Credit Union and the Windsor Police Association.

“WFCU Credit Union is proud to sponsor FIREFEST 2023 ‘Run with Responders 5K’ in support of CMHA-WECB and Law Enforcement Torch Relay for Special Olympics,” said WFCU Credit Union President and Chief Executive Officer Eddie Francis. “We are committed to supporting organizations and individuals who contribute to the wellbeing of our community, and we would like to thank all of the dedicated emergency responders and police services staff who work tirelessly to make Windsor-Essex a better place to live and work.”

Sponsorship opportunities and donations for giveaway items are still available. All sponsors will receive signage recognition and be highlighted on the event website. For more information on “Run With Responders 5K,” individuals and companies may contact Dave Orshinsky, at (519) 996-1012 or email or visit online.

Windsor FireFit Competition Team Announced:

It is called “the toughest two minutes in sports,” and it’s happening September 8, 9, and 10, 2023, as the FireFit competitions will be part of FIREFEST 2023.

This is the 18th year Windsor Fire and Rescue team members have competed, and they have dominated, setting numerous records in addition to winning five Canadian national and two world championships while travelling across Canada and the United States. The team is proud to have won, and donated to the City of Windsor, a variety of prizes, including seven thermal-imaging cameras valued at over $130,000.

The team members representing Windsor for 2023 are Carlton Ylinen; Chris Horvath; Darren Quennell; Jack Bailey, Captain (has competed for eleven years and is in the FireFit Hall of Fame); Jason Laughland; and Kory Bremner.

The FireFit competition — individual and relay — is based upon firefighting tasks often performed in emergencies. The course is highly demanding, and each task is completed while wearing full firefighting gear, which weighs 80 pounds.

For more information about FIREFEST 2023, view further details at

Latest News