Shelton rehab clinic makes potentially lifesaving donation to city firefighters

Photo of Brian Gioiele
Shelton-based Moving with Hope donated two FAST boards to the Shelton Fire Department. Pictured are, left to right, past Assistant Chief Shaun Wheeler, Nikita Rose, Everett Mosher, Todd Johnston, “Madden,” Moving with Hope founder Thatcher Duni, Deputy Chief Paul Wilson and Lt. Scott Goldin.

Shelton-based Moving with Hope donated two FAST boards to the Shelton Fire Department. Pictured are, left to right, past Assistant Chief Shaun Wheeler, Nikita Rose, Everett Mosher, Todd Johnston, “Madden,” Moving with Hope founder Thatcher Duni, Deputy Chief Paul Wilson and Lt. Scott Goldin.

Assistant Chief Bob Finta / Contributed photo

SHELTON — Moving with Hope, renowned for its efforts in neurological and physical therapy for multiple sclerosis and spinal cord injuries, is now assisting the city’s firefighters.

The Shelton-based center this week donated two FAST (firefighter assistance search team) rescue boards — designed to assist in patient removal from fires, waterways, and other significantly different situations — to the Shelton Fire Department.

“We are extremely grateful for this donation,” Deputy Fire Chief Paul Wilson said, “and we look forward to placing them in service once training is completed.”

Tad Duni, founder of Moving with Hope, said he was donating the FAST boards in honor of Chris Far, a former Shelton volunteer firefighter, Stephen Domorod, Sr., late husband of City Clerk Marge Domorod, and Billy Burke, late husband of Cyndee Burke, Mayor Mark Lauretti’s longtime executive secretary.

“That was so gracious of Tad to donate the FAST boards in memory of my husband,” Domorod said.

Stephen Domorod, Sr., worked at Sikorsky Aircraft for 38 years in electrical maintenance, served as an electrical inspector for the City of Shelton for a number of years until 1998. He also was a member of Echo Hose Fire Department and Ambulance Corps and served on the Republican Town Committee.

Domorod said her husband was stricken with Parkinson’s disease and heart disease and joined the gym facility owned by Duni.

“Tad was a blessing in helping Steve maintain his mobility for many years thru the therapy and exercise at the gym,” Domorod said. “Steve passed away in 1998, but I will always be grateful to Tad for helping Steve maintain his mobility and dignity.”

“I was pleasantly surprised and honored for Billy when Tad Duni told me he wanted to make this donation in memory of my husband,” Burke said. “It felt wonderful to know that Billy is still is people’s thoughts and memories. As of course, he is constantly in my heart and memories.”

Burke said her late husband met Duni many years ago and they became friends when Bill joined Duni’s fitness gym.

“Bill had a serious heart condition, and I credit Tad with helping him live a full life in the 1990s by carefully suggesting and supervising Bill with his cardio and overall physical fitness,” Burke said.

William H. Burke, who died in 2002 at 49 years of age, was raised in Shelton and followed in his father’s (William J. Burke) footsteps and joined Echo Hose Fire Company in his teens. His younger brother, Timmy, became a member, too.

“Bill was a very active member all his life,” Burke added. “He was involved in so many different aspects of the firehouse in addition to firefighting. He served as 2nd Lieutenant, 1st Lieutenant and Captain of Echo Hose Firehouse and eventually he became Assistant Fire Chief for the City of Shelton for 10 years.”

The FAST boards are designed to have a pre-connected mechanical advantage to assist in dragging victims out of an immediately dangerous situation such as the basement of a burning building or rough terrain.

“In the event a firefighter was to become injured inside of a fire, these boards can be used to remove our own,” Wilson said. “With firefighters wearing upwards of 75 pounds of protective gear, removal of a down firefighter can become very difficult.”

One of the boards will be assigned to the Huntington Fire Company and the other to the Echo Hose Hook and Ladder Company 1, according to Wilson.

Moving with Hope was founded in 2010 by Chairman of the Board Thatcher Duni and his wife, Joanne. This organization is the largest provider in Connecticut for neurological and physical therapy for MS, spinal cord, and other significant injuries.

brian.gioiele@hearstmediact.com