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Wymers purchase ice suits for Solon fire department

Firefighers to keep memory of Tanner Wymer near their hearts
Jordan, Brad and Marcy Wymer display one of the ice resuce suits purchased for the fire department by the Wymer family with proceeds from a poker run held in Tanner Wymer’s memory. (photo by Doug Lindner)

SOLON– On the outside of the new ice rescue suits, right in front of the heart, is the logo with Tanner Wymer’s initials and the hashtag #wymerstrong.
Six of the suits were purchased for the Solon Tri-Township Emergency Response Agency by the Wymer family with the proceeds from the second annual poker run held in Tanner’s honor, April 22.
There were 78 motorcycles counted during the run, the same number Tanner wore as a member of the Solon High School football team.
A senior at the high school, Tanner died as a result of an accidental drowning in the Coralville Reservoir Jan. 4, 2016, at the age of 17.
“They wanted to do something for the fire department,” Captain Rick Childs said of Brad and Marcy Wymer, Tanner’s parents. The couple was specifically interested in ice rescue or water rescue equipment, Child said. “We have two ice rescue suits that were going bad or that we had to repair, so we mentioned getting new ice rescue suits,” he said.
The Wymers not only replaced the two failing suits, they purchased an additional four more, including one in a smaller size. The donation was an approximate $6,000 value.
“Now we have suits that fit everyone on this department,” explained First Assistant Chief Scott Wolfe. The suits the department had were clunky and cumbersome in a one-size-fits-most, he said. The new smaller suit will be a better fit for female and smaller male firefighters.

About 200 people participated in the poker run, which started at the Solon American Legion and featured stops at the General Store in Stone City, Teddy’s Barn and Grill in Amber, Thirsty on 30 in Stanwood and the Sutliff Store before returning to the Legion, where silent and live auctions were held. Keela and the Boys provided live music.
“The first one last year was spearheaded by some of Tanner’s friends who’d ridden motorcycles with him,” Marcy said. “They said, ‘oh, it’d be really nice to get together and have a ride.’
The boys began getting calls, wondering when and were the ride was going to be, she said, and they kind of panicked.
“It just kind of snowballed,” she said.
Michelle Fritz and Amy Mahoney stepped in last year to organize, she continued, and this year the two decided to do it right.
“They got sponsors and donations from all over the surrounding communities,” Marcy said. “So it’s the generosity not only of Solon, but Iowa City and North Liberty and Lisbon and Mount Vernon and Cedar Rapids and Swisher and Shueyville. They had things donated from all over. And so that’s what helped generate as many funds as we had to disperse.”
As the riders left Stone City and headed toward Amber, she said, organizers counted 78 motorcycles.
“A number of the riders watched an eagle follow the ride all the way to Teddy’s and when we pulled into Teddy’s, this eagle circled and circled above,” she added. Two different riders posted video of the eagle to the poker ride’s Facebook page.
“That was pretty incredible,” she said.
Something that started off as a bunch of friends wanting to ride has turned into something that can do a lot of good, she said.

The suits really make a difference in the way the department approaches an ice rescue, Wolfe said.
“We protect so much ice,” he said.
“We’ve got the Cedar River, which is a very dangerous body of water, and we have the lake, we have the Coralville Reservoir,” Wolfe said. “But we also have lot of ponds in these developments around here.”
Formerly, the standard procedure would be Reach, Throw, Row and Go, he said.
“You try to reach in and pull them out– can’t reach them, try to throw them a bag, pull them out,” he said. “If you can’t do that, get in a boat and try to get to them, or the last option is a Go mission, try to go and get them. Tie a rope around you and go get them.”
With the new suits, he said, “Our mission is Go right off the bat.”
The first firefighters at the station after an ice rescue call will pull out the suits and put them on as they wait for the truck to fill, he said.
“You cannot sink in it, it’s like wearing a life jacket,” Wolfe said. “I can put on an ice rescue suit on a zero-degree day and get in the water and hang out for several hours and not get cold.”
With a total of 12 suits, the department has the ability to simultaneously attempt to reach six individuals.
“So it’s a very useful tool for our department, and greatly enhances abilities to effect a rescue,” he added.