By Ed Karvoski Jr., Contributing Writer
Shrewsbury – Seamus Shanley of Shrewsbury is a Marine Corps veteran, Worcester firefighter and marathoner. Now, he’s also the cover man of “Worcester’s Smokin’ Hot Heroes” 2016 calendar to benefit the Box 4 Special Services. Between the calendar covers are other shirtless Worcester firefighters representing each month for a charitable cause.
According to its Facebook page, “Box 4 Special Services provides extended incident rehab for the first responders of Worcester County.” Citing a recent fire he worked, Shanley described the service this nonprofit organization provides.
“As soon as it becomes a multiple-alarm fire, the Box 4 truck comes, manned by volunteers,” he explained. “We had a three-alarm fire at 4 a.m. They jumped out of their beds, got on the truck and drove to the fire scene to provide food and beverages to all the citizens that were displaced and all of us fighting the fire. It’s always a good morale booster to see Box 4.”
He became inspired to help others while in elementary school when a neighbor joined the Marine Corps. Shanley served in the Marine Corps from 1996 to 2000, based at Camp Lejeune in Jacksonville, N.C. He was deployed with a marine expeditionary unit to Mediterranean countries and travelled to Panama for jungle training.
In 2013, he was invited to speak at Shrewsbury’s Memorial Day observance. His address included references to the Johnny Cash song “Ragged Old Flag.”
“I take my kids to the Memorial Day service in town every year, so they got a kick out of seeing their dad giving a speech in uniform,” he relayed. “The flag means so much to me. It represents everything that’s great about this country. We shouldn’t take it for granted.”
Shanley was a rifle instructor during his last year in the Marine Corps. Also that year while on leave, he returned to Massachusetts to take the firefighter exam.
“I started as a firefighter six days after the 9/11 attacks,” he noted. “I served the country as a Marine and wanted to continue helping people in the community. Every call you go on is the worst day of someone’s life. You go there and help them the best you can. Firefighting is a great job. I wouldn’t want to do anything else.”
Yet, he finds time to also work as an assistant with Heald & Chiampa Funeral Directors in Shrewsbury, a sponsor of the fundraising calendar.
Additionally, Shanley has run several marathons including two as fundraisers. In 2002, he and his wife Jenny ran the Marine Corps Marathon in Washington, D.C., to fundraise for the International Association of Firefighters Burn Foundation. More recently, he ran the Boston Marathon to benefit the families of Lt. Edward Walsh and Firefighter Michael Kennedy, casualties of a Back Bay brownstone fire in 2014.
Locally, Shanley has participated in the Veterans Memorial 5K Road Race each of its 11 years. The fundraiser benefits Veterans Inc. From the time his children were born, he has run while pushing a stroller with a child or two and carrying an American flag.
While Shanley acknowledges that he dislikes marathon training, he enjoys working out regularly at the Boroughs Family Branch YMCA in Westborough. He typically brings his children: Rory, 7; Maeve, 5; and Quinn, 1.
“My kids basically grew up at the Y – they love the place,” he said. “Members get to know each other and their kids play with your kids. It’s a real tight community.”
Shanley has also good-naturedly become known within the community for his fundraising calendar photos. He previously appeared in the Worcester firefighters’ 2007 calendar as “Mr. March.”
“It’s all in good fun – and for a great cause,” he said.
Calendars are available for $13.95 at most Dunkin Donuts in Shrewsbury and Worcester, and online at worcfirefightercalendar.com.