About 250 people, including Philadelphia Fire Commissioner Adam Thiel and many first responders, recently celebrated educational opportunity and community service at Delaware County Community College’s Educational Foundation Dinner at the Drexelbrook Catering & Special Event Center in Drexel Hill.
This year, the event included a posthumous recognition of Philadelphia Fire Department Captain Matthew LeTourneau, a 1995 graduate of Delaware County Community College, who was a beloved and well-respected emergency medical technician/cardiopulmonary resuscitation instructor. LeTourneau died on Jan. 6 bravely fighting a house fire in North Philadelphia.
The college bestowed its highest alumni honor, the Wong Moss Outstanding Alumni Award, upon the LeTourneau family in recognition of Captain LeTourneau’s selfless service.
“I want to make sure his family knows how loved and respected he was among his peers, both at the college and in the Philadelphia Fire Department,” said John Moss, whose family created the Wong Moss Outstanding Alumni Award in honor of their late mother, Barbara Wong Moss, former chair of the college’s Board of Trustees.
Luke LeTourneau, Captain LeTourneau’s brother, accepted the award on behalf of their family.
“My brother Matt had a passion for firefighting that was unrivaled,” he said. “He was always on a journey to learn and teach, to take opportunities to gain knowledge, or even just talk shop with whomever would listen.
“He always wanted to share and it didn’t matter who you were.”
To continue the legacy of Captain LeTourneau, his family has created a foundation and a scholarship at the college in memory of the fallen firefighter.
“To carry on Matt’s legacy, we as a family have created the Captain Matt LeTourneau Memorial Foundation, with a purpose to secure the advancement of firefighters and those who wish to become instructors,” Luke LeTourneau said. “Advancing knowledge saves lives.”
Bethany DeLoach, a paramedic student at the college and one of the first recipients of the LeTourneau scholarship, spoke of how the scholarship would help her and her family. A single mother of two young girls, who works full time as an emergency medical technician with the Philadelphia Fire Department, DeLoach spoke about her journey as a recovering addict to a point in her life where she is now focused on making a life-long career out of helping others.
“Working so closely with paramedics helped a lost dream to reawaken inside of me,” she said. “I am on a path to expand my knowledge in the pre-hospital medical field. All my life, I was in the field of helping other people — waitress, CNA, home health aide, EMT — why not take the next step in education?
“Last year, a co-worker told me that Delaware County was starting a paramedic class. I applied and completed the necessary paperwork and clearances.”
DeLoach is on track to graduate from the college’s paramedic program next year.