Giving Back to First Responders
By Daniel McKenna
Daniel McKenna is a litigation associate in the consumer financial services group of Philadelphia-based Ballard Spahr Andrews & Ingersoll, LLP.
On September 11, 2001, thousands of first responders risked their lives to save their fellow Americans. Three hundred and forty-three firefighters, twenty-three police officers, and thirty-seven port-authority police officers made the ultimate sacrifice. On June 18, 2007, nine firefighters paid the same price battling a furniture-store fire in South Carolina. Every day, in every town and city across the nation, first responders—firefighters, police, and EMT—put their lives at risk to protect us.
During the 2007–08 bar year, the ABA Young Lawyers Division will show its respect and support for these American heroes by naming the Wills for Heroes® Program as its public service project. In partnership with The Wills for Heroes® Foundation, the YLD will encourage its affiliates and 140,000 members to bring this unique, much-needed program to their local first responders.
Wills for Heroes programs provide free wills, living wills, and healthcare and financial powers of attorney to first responders and their spouses or domestic partners. Since November 2001, the programs have prepared over 6,000 estate-planning documents for first responders. Programs are active in Arizona, Georgia, Minnesota, Ohio, South Carolina, Virginia, and Washington. Due to the overwhelming success of the program, lawyers and first responders from more than a dozen states have requested more information about the program.
Together, the YLD and Wills for Heroes Foundation are working to answer this call by facilitating the integration of these programs into every state, local, and specialty bar association and law firm interested in celebrating these American heroes. The only requirement for an organization to participate is a commitment to the implementation and continuation of the program. It is a public service project that by its very nature expresses respect and support for first responders and that exemplifies public service by “protecting those who protect us.”®
Unfortunately many first responders do not have estate plans. With your support, the YLD, in partnership with the Wills for Heroes Foundation, can remedy that problem. Learn more about the Wills for Heroes Foundation at www.willsforheroes. com. If you are interested in being involved in the Wills for Heroes Public Service Project, contact Daniel McKenna at or visit