Wills for Heroes Program Helps First Responders Prepare Wills
Harrisburg Correspondent and Web Editor - Published: April 21, 2010
Volunteers drafted 62 wills for Dauphin County first responders in Harrisburg during the Wills for Heroes event held on Saturday, April 17, 2010. Widener Law also became the official Delaware Affiliate of the National Wills for Heroes Foundation with the Delaware campus hosting a similar event in which volunteer attorneys and Widener Law students prepared 33 wills in addition to other important documents such as Health Care Directives and Living Wills.

The Harrisburg Trial Advocacy Society organized and sponsored the event, which took place for the first time at a Pennsylvania law school on Saturday from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. The event was located in the main law building on the Harrisburg campus. The Barrister’s Club served as the location for the Delaware campus Wills for Hero event. Law student Damiano del Pino was instrumental in launching the event in Delaware. Having helped at a Wills for Heroes event in New Jersey, he brought the idea of becoming the official affiliate to the law school administration on the Delaware campus.

In Harrisburg, Over 30 students, 20 attorneys and three professors – Starla J.Williams, Dionne E. Anthon, and Amanda Smith - volunteered their time to draft wills for first responders, including police officers, firemen, EMT personnel, and other individuals who are also included in that category.

Participation on the Delaware campus was also impressive. “John Kitchen, Nick Mirkay, Leslie Johnson, Mary Allen, Tammy Graham, Dom del Pino, Jim Hampton, Gary Berg and Tom Reed all played major, major roles in this wonderful event. Our wonderful students couldn't have been more helpful,” said Special Programs Coordinator Connie Sweeney.

In Harrisburg, Dunkin Donuts, Bagel Lover’s Café, and the Atlanta Bread company donated breakfast, while Christopher’s subs and Olive Garden provided lunch. The event was advertised throughout the Dauphin County area by the EMS Federation, local bar associations, and by the students through e-mail. The first responders were given a website where the appointment scheduler was located which enabled them to sign up online.

Hillary Prutzman, a member of executive board of the Harrisburg Trial Advocacy Society who helped organize the Harrisburg event said, "I am extremely appreciative that Widener University had the honor and opportunity to become involved in such a great event. Wills for Heroes gives back to those individuals who risk their lives every day. The event was truly a success, we had great a turnout across the board with attorneys, students and professors. I would just like to thank everyone who attended the event because without them we would not have been able to make this event such a success.”

Originally founded by Anthony Hayes, a partner at Nelson Mullins Riley and Scarborough, LLP, in Columbia, South Carolina, after the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks to present first responders with wills at no cost, the Wills for Heroes Foundation has spread to communities across the nation.