91-year-old Missouri man saves firefighters with $500,000 donation

A 91-year-old’s $500,000 donation saved a small volunteer fire department in Missouri from certain extinction.

In April, Sam Sloan decided to make good on a promise he made to himself decades ago when he got out of the livestock and seed processing business: Donate to the Calhoun Fire Department.

“You need the money once I had the money; “I’ve been saving money for a long time,” Sloan said Thursday.

Sloan had an idea of ​​how tight the fire department was because he lived about 2 miles from the fire department.

Sam Sloan generously donated $500,000 to the Calhoun Fire Department.Courtesy of Mark Hardin

“It’s a small community and I knew how much money they had available to work with each year. I was in business in this community for 40 or 50 years,” Sloan added.

Calhoun, located about 85 miles southeast of Kansas City, has fewer than 500 residents.

But Sloan had no idea that at the end of the first quarter of this year, the fire department only had $169 left in its bank account.

“It’s like a Cinderella story, isn’t it?” said Fire Chief Mark Hardin.

Hardin took over as chief in 2021, when it was only a volunteer firefighter. The squad has now grown to 29 members. He says he knew even then that the department was in trouble.

“We relied on donations from other departments; That’s the only way we could get through,” Hardin said.

Hardin says he received a call out of the blue in April from Sloan, a man he had never met or spoken to in his life. Sloan had a simple request to be invited to breakfast.

Calhoun Fire Department Chief Mark Hardin.Courtesy of Mark Hardin

“He had a lot of questions about the fire service,” Hardin said.

But that’s it. Then, a week later, another call and another request for breakfast.

The third week came and the call came, but this time Sloan invited Hardin to his house.

“There were cinnamon rolls and donuts on the table and his accountant was there, he stopped. His wife was there,” Hardin recalls. “I’ve never spoken to the man in my life and three weeks later he hands me a check for half a million dollars.”

The fire department is already using the money as it just completed the purchase of a new engine.

“For every penny we buy, we get his permission, so to speak. Just so he still has a stake in where his money goes,” Hardin said.

The Calhoun Fire Department named Sam Sloan as a volunteer fire chief wearing a fire helmet.Courtesy of Mark Hardin

The firefighters also named Sloan volunteer fire chief.

“I really appreciate them giving me a new chief firefighter hat and I have it right here. I probably wear it every now and then, it really meant a lot to me,” Sloan said.

His only other conditions for the gift: a large community barbecue once the department receives new uniforms and a request that the new fire engine lead the parade at his funeral.

But Hardin and the rest of the company hope that won’t be the case for long.

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