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Toledo, Ohio & Lake Erie

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Andy Rakay’s bell to be rung for fallen firefighters

When longtime International Boxing Club president Andrew Rakay passed away after suffering a stroke at age 80 in 2010, IBC founder and best friend Harry Cummins, along with the rest of the gym's family, honored their pal by retiring the sacred gold bell that Rakay used to keep time with during the gym's many amateur boxing bouts.

It will be displayed on an IBC wall for all to see and remember.

However, on March 22, 2014 from 9 a.m.-6 p.m., that carefully-preserved bell will be taken down and pressed into service one more time.

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Andy Rakay

Only on this occasion, it won't be used to ring in the start of another boxing show, or to signal the end of a round, but instead to sound a traditional "last alarm" for fallen Toledo firefighters Stephan A. Machcinski and James A. Dickman, who were killed in the line of duty while battling an apartment fire near downtown Toledo on January 26.

"That's the way Andrew, a lifelong Toledo firefighter himself, and a giving man with a tireless passion for helping others, would've wanted it," Cummins said.

In the boxing world, a final 10-count is often done for boxers killed in the ring or for greats of the sport who have passed away. This time, the IBC will ring it for the firefighters as part of a fundraising event, with 100 percent of the proceeds going to the late firefighters’ families.

“I'll be taking Andrew's bell back down off the wall, and doing a final 10-count with it, and that will be Andrew's way of performing a ‘last Alarm’ for his fellow fallen firefighters as he looks down on our event," explains Cummins.

The event is dubbed the Fallen Firefighters Craft Show & Expo. In addition to the symbolic "Last Alarm/Final 10-Count" ceremony, promoters are expecting surviving Toledo firefighting veterans and their families to be in attendance for the day-long event, which will also feature active Toledo firefighters representing T-Town's 18 station houses via a chili cook-off.

Area artisans will be on hand to display their wares in an eclectic, 100-vendor craft show, as will country music radio station K100 and disc jockey Tony Acevedo of the Toledo-based DJ service, the Four Aces.

In IBC fundraising style, there will also be a silent auction. The IBC is located at the old Fun Spot Roller Skating Rink, 525 Earlwood Ave., Oregon, just off Starr Ave.

True-blue heroes

Cummins, a boxing coach and promoter, calls call the late Private Machcinski and Private Dickman “true-blue Toledo heroes,” and adds that he's always possessed a respect for the men and women of the Toledo Fire & Rescue Department and all that they've done and sacrificed throughout the TFD's rich 177-year history.

He says the respect was ingrained within him from all those years of proudly calling former TFD Captain Andrew Rakay “a brother and best friend.”

"Andrew became a firefighter in 1960, and was actually one of the first firemen on the scene of another tragic Toledo fire, the Anthony Wayne Trail fire, after a gasoline tanker turned over, and burst into flames near downtown Toledo," shares Cummins.

The infamous June 10, 1961 disaster on the trail saw four other Toledo firefighters lose their lives while fighting the historic blaze which destroyed nearby homes. It injured 80 people, at least 30 of whom were children, and choked downtown in thick, black smoke, all resulting from the violent explosion of nearly 8,000 gallons of gas.

"Then, in '71, he became a captain, and later retired as a captain from Station No. 3 at Bush and Erie in '82,” Cummins said. “Throughout his career, Andrew served as president of the Firefighters Union, and was credited for fighting for better working conditions for Toledo firefighters. So, I think this is the way he would've wanted it. He brought his bell over to the gym from his retirement from the department, and used it during our amateur boxing bouts when he became our timekeeper.

"From our IBC board members, to our young boxers, to our tutors over in the learning center, to our coaches, this will be the IBC's way of donating our facility, and giving back to our fallen firefighters, and really all of the local firefighters for the selfless service they provide to our communities," says Cummins. "I salute each and every one of them, and our hearts here at the gym go out to the families of our fallen heroes."

Since the founding of the fire department in Toledo in 1837, Toledo has lost 49 firefighters to active duty, with Pvt. Machcinski and Pvt. Dickman becoming the 48th and 49th losses while battling the Magnolia Street apartment blaze.

For more info on the Fallen Firefighters Craft Show & Expo, contact the IBC at 419-244-8955, visit the IBC on Facebook, or at www.ibctoledo.org.

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Andy Rakay with former Toledo Mayor Carty Finkbeiner. (Press file photo by Ken Grosjean)

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Andy Rakay

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Andy Rakay with another official at the World Boxing Tournament.

Giving money to people along road

Do you feel compelled to give money to people holding signs along the road asking for money?
470745054 [{"id":"10","title":"No, I'm not sure they're legitimate.","votes":"14","pct":58.33,"type":"x","order":"1","resources":[]},{"id":"11","title":"No, I'm afraid they will use it for drugs.","votes":"6","pct":25,"type":"x","order":"2","resources":[]},{"id":"12","title":"Yes, I feel good about helping someone down on their luck.","votes":"3","pct":12.5,"type":"x","order":"3","resources":[]},{"id":"13","title":"Yes, we could all end up like that.","votes":"1","pct":4.17,"type":"x","order":"4","resources":[]}] ["#194e84","#3b6b9c","#1f242a","#37414a","#60bb22","#f2babb"] sbar 160 160 /communitypolls/vote/1-root.html?Itemid=183&id=5 No answer selected. Please try again. Thank you for your vote. Answers Votes ...