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Annual Iowa hike honors fallen FF, raises money for EMT, paramedic school

The Greg Freshwater Memorial Ruck raises funds for scholarships for EMS training


Waterloo Fire Rescue/Facebook

By Jeff Reinitz
Waterloo-Cedar Falls Courier

WATERLOO, Iowa — Family and friends of Greg Freshwater walked for a good cause Tuesday.

The group, which included several first responders, made the trek from Prairie Grove Park on Shaulis Road to his final resting place at Zion Lutheran Church Cemetery outside Hudson for the sixth annual Greg Freshwater Memorial Ruck.

The journey was about 10 miles through rural Black Hawk County. Some wore laden packs, one person carried a “thin red line” American flag signifying Freshwater’s service with Waterloo Fire Rescue.

Freshwater’s life was cut short six years ago — on Aug. 29, 2017 — when he was struck by a vehicle while jogging on Shaulis Road. At the time, he was a 27-year-old firefighter training to add emergency medicine to his skillset.

The annual ruck is part of a fundraiser to collect money for a scholarship named after Freshwater. Funds are used to defray the cost of sending Waterloo firefighters to advanced emergency medical technician and paramedic schools.

This year, the fund started efforts to raise the scholarship fund from $50,000 to $125,000. Organizers said this will ensure it can provide $6,000 in scholarships every year.

An anonymous donor has stepped forward to match the first $25,000 as a way to jumpstart the goal. The fund is managed by the Waterloo Community Foundation.

Donations to the Greg Freshwater Memorial Scholarship Fund can be made online at or by check with “Greg Freshwater Memorial Scholarship” in the memo line mailed to Waterloo Community Foundation P.O. Box 1253 Waterloo, IA 50704.

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