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SAN DIEGO – A “significant contribution” has been announced by the California Credit Union League to the memorial fund for Steve Rucker, the 38-year-old firefighter who died last month battling a wildfire near here. A contribution was also made to a fund to aid severely injured firefighter Doug McDonald, who suffered burns over 27% of his body fighting the same Cedar Fire blaze near Julian. Both Rucker and McDonald were from the Novato Fire District in northern California. Rucker, an 11-year veteran, died Oct. 29 when flames overran his crew. He is survived by his wife and two children. McDonald, 48, was a 17-year veteran with the district. He is married with two children. The league also announced during its annual convention here Nov. 17-19 that it, along with the California League Services Corp., was establishing a $10,000 post-secondary scholarship for firefighters or their dependents who are members of a credit union in California or Nevada. It will be administered through the Richard Myles Johnson Foundation. The announcement came as the league honored firefighters who fought the recent Southern California wildfires. Four firefighters from the San Diego Firefighters Federal Credit Union were called to the stage while the donation and scholarship announcements were made. “No area was harder hit than here in San Diego County,” noted Matt Davidson, executive vice president with the league. “But the devastation would be much worse if not for the bravery of firefighters, police and other safety workers who risked their lives to save the lives and property of others.” Davidson noted that the league has distributed more than $100,000 in grants to some 200 individual credit union staff, volunteers and members who were affected by the fires. “Some of our friends and neighbors lost everything and are now on the long road to recovery,” he said. “But no one needs to go through the process alone.” The wildfires which raged across Southern California blackened some 750,000 acres, destroyed 3,500 homes and left at least 22 people dead. Most of the fatalities occurred in San Diego County. League officials did not disclose the amount of the contributions to the funds for Rucker or McDonald. The scholarship fund could begin distributing awards as early as January, according to Kim Bannan, vice president of CU development for the league. She said she hoped the fund would become a perpetual scholarship with ongoing donations from the credit union community. She said the scholarship was set up as a small way to show firefighters how much they were appreciated. “The community was impacted so heavily because of the fires, we were looking at a way . . . of saying thank you to these folks,” she said. David L. Chatfield, league president and chief executive officer, said he and his wife Kris “really have a special feeling for the work that the firefighters did” because they nearly lost their own home to the fires in the San Bernardino mountains. “We feel so badly for those who did,” he said. -

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