HyVee, radio fundraise for Winona firefighters




Starting early on Monday morning, Gabe Glidden will broadcast his KG95-3 morning show from a unique location — suspended in the air over HyVee’s parking lot in a tent on a scissors lift. 

The stunt is part of HyVee’s fundraiser to raise money for lifesaving equipment for the Winona Fire Department (WFD). HyVee will also smoke racks of ribs for sale, and part of the proceeds will be donated to the WFD. Donations can be made by calling HyVee. 

According to Leighton Broadcasting’s Operations Manager Amy Foxx, after they heard about HyVee’s fundraiser, Leighton Broadcasting staff began brainstorming ways to draw more attention. “It’s going to such a great cause,” Foxx said. “We wanted to jump right into this.”

However, it was not Glidden’s idea to be suspended in the air over the parking lot. When they told him about the idea, the only thing Glidden asked was whether he could bring his guitar with him. 

HyVee Store Director Dan Welsh said this is the first year for the fundraiser. After coming up with a theme to support Winona’s local heroes, store staff decided to partner with the Winona firefighters. “For me, the fire department — they’re the first ones there,” Welsh said. “When everyone’s running out of a dangerous situation and a fire, they’re the ones running in.”

Welsh hopes to raise $10,000 to help the WFD purchase thermal cameras built into firefighters’ face masks. Chief Curt Bittle explained that currently the department has several hand-held thermal cameras, but he said they presented challenges. “It gets a little cumbersome when you’re in a fire because you’re tying one of your hands up,” he said. 

Bittle explained that the thermal cameras show the firefighters the difference in temperatures in an area. They can help locate fires faster or help find people during search and rescue missions by detecting their body temperatures. He’s hoping to be able to purchase at least two of the cameras.

“It’s a wonderful piece of equipment we’re looking to get. With a tight budget, it’s not something we could arbitrarily go and buy,” Bittle said. 

How will the fundraiser work? Starting on Monday morning at 6 a.m., Glidden will be suspended in the air on the lift where he will eat, sleep, and broadcast live until $5,000 have been donated. Every hour, Glidden will get a 10-minute break to get off the lift, use the rest room, and stretch his legs, according to Foxx. Welsh said that if the weather gets bad, they will let Glidden come inside. “He’s going to be out there in the elements,” Welsh said.

On March 24 and 25 from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m., HyVee staff will sell smoked and sauced ribs for $10 and $2 from each rack of ribs will be donated to the WFD. Welsh said that they ordered 1,400 racks of ribs that will be smoked and sold at HyVee. 

Donations can be made either directly or by pre-ordering ribs at the Winona HyVee meat counter or calling 507-452-5411. HyVee customers can also make donations at the store while checking out. 

To follow Glidden’s experience on the lift, listen live at 95.3 FM or follow him on social media. Listeners can also text Glidden during the event at 507-474-0953. 


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