The Two Hundred Club of the Coastal Empire is holding its 13th annual Savannah Mile on May 26 in Forsyth Park to help raise funds for the families of fallen first responders.

The sanctioned race will run from Forsyth Park up Drayton Street, and finish at Broughton Street with food, music, and awards in Johnson Square. It starts at 8 a.m. with the first of four heats for different ages. The Memory Walk starts at 9:05 a.m. for families of fallen first responders. The Heroes Heat starts at 9:30 a.m. for all first responders and military, full gear or not. Full gear is required to compete for the Full Gear*All Out Flag, in which participants carry a minimum of 30 pounds of gear.

Founded in 2001, the Two Hundred Club’s mission is to give financial assistance to the spouses and families of law enforcement officers, firefighters, and paramedics who die or suffer critical injuries in the line of duty.

 

Nicole Hardy received help from the Two Hundred Club when tragedy struck her family. In 2015, her husband, Stuart, a firefighter for the Burton Fire Department in Beaufort, was killed on the job, leaving behind her and their three children.

“He was responding to a vehicle accident,” says Hardy. “It was completely unexpected. He was on the scene of a call and next thing I knew there was someone knocking at my door telling me they had to rush him to the hospital.”

Stuart died from brain injuries the following morning.

Hardy had never heard of the Two Hundred Club, but they immediately swooped in like superheroes to help her pick up the pieces of her life.

“I don’t know how they knew,” says Hardy. “The chief of the Burton Fire Department didn’t know who they were until the incident happened, and then he told me there was an organization that wants to meet with me. They just showed up. They hear that something like this happens and then they make sure they’re there for the family.”

Like first responders, the Two Hundred Club members move with unbelievable speed to make sure those in need are quickly taken care of.

“It’s incredible,” says Hardy. “They offered financial assistance, but they also gave me info about different lawyers, things that I never thought I needed; they knew exactly who to turn me to and how to help.”

To date, the Two Hundred Club has assisted 44 families. Besides immediate financial assistance, the organization even provides a fully paid college education to all of the surviving family members. Hardy is currently finishing her master’s degree in education thanks to generosity the Two Hundred Club.

“If I need anything, I just send an email and they’re very quick to respond,” says Hardy. “They always send flowers on Mother’s Day. On Thanksgiving and Christmas they send something to help with dinner. They are constantly doing what they can to reach out.

“They’re an amazing group of people,” Hardy adds. “There was a lot when they stepped in — not only financial and legal things. I wanted to find counseling for my children, for them to be able to speak to somebody, so I sent them an email asking, ‘Who do you know? Please, just give me a starting point because I have no idea.’ They have so much experience with this that they know exactly which direction to point you in and I really don’t think we would be in the place we are without them.”