Lone surivor of Yarnell Hill tragedy shares message of thanks

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By Mike Gertzman By Mike Gertzman

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- A little more than a month after losing his 19 Hotshot brothers in the Yarnell Hill wildfire, lone survivor, Brendan McDonough took part in a charity golf event at Gainey Ranch in Scottsdale to raise money for the families of the fallen.

He was introduced as a hero, as he took the stage Friday night to make a brief statement, sharing his appreciation for the support from the community.

“There’s kinda a lot I want to say, but I just want to say ‘thank you’ to every single person who is here today. You’ve made a huge difference in these families’ lives, and the money you’re putting forward to this is not going to go to waste. There are a lot of children, unborn children. It’s going to help a lot,” said McDonough.

“We can’t bring them back, but we can remember them in an amazing way and continue to be strong for this community and state,” he said.

McDonough received a standing ovation from the dozens who turned out to support his Granite Mountain Hotshot team and the loved ones left behind.

“It’s not enough, no matter what we do, but it’s something,” said Tom Townsen who lives in Prescott. “We’re all still devastated.”

However, through the devastation, support from the community continues to grow.

“You never know until something like this happens how big a brotherhood the fire department is,” said Captain Dan Hutchison of the Prescott Fire Department. He played alongside McDonough on Friday.

“It’s one thing to lose all your brothers, but also to have the strength to be a survivor, it's very important,” Hutchison said. "There are a lot of friends, family, brothers, sisters, wives that are all survivors of this. They're the ones who have to go on."

“We keep them in our prayers all the time,” said Tamra Townsen, especially Brendan McDonough.

“I hope he realizes there’s a reason he’s alive; there’s a purpose he has on this earth. I really feel for him.” said Townsen.