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Hometown Hero

by Editorial Staff--South Jersey Magazine
When Medford Lakes experienced flooding associated with 26 catastrophic dam failures in 2004, Steve Heicklen had an epiphany. “I realized I’m pretty good at running this disaster stuff,” he says. Since then, Heicklen has volunteered around the globe, from post-Katrina New Orleans to earthquake-ravaged Haiti. And now, his relief work has made him a star of a new Imax-format documentary, Rescue 3D.

The volunteer firefighter, Medford Lakes’ emergency management director and owner of Jersey Pools and Spas, caught the eye of director Stephen Low when he “borrowed” a rescue team’s helicopter for an urgent mission in Haiti—without exactly getting permission first. He’s one of four rescue workers highlighted in the film, which was funded by Boeing and features the company’s rescue aircraft.

Despite being a business owner and father of four, Heicklen says embarking on rescue trips is never a tough decision. “When I go away for a greater good than what I’m doing here at home, it makes it easy,” he adds.

Now that Rescue is set to premiere at the Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum in Washington, D.C., on June 8—and to play on big screens from St. Louis to Seoul throughout the year—Heicklen is hoping to inspire others as well.

“This really allows the message to be sent out to the public that not only does the military run huge relief missions,” he says, “but that individuals also make a big difference by going out on their own.”

Published (and copyrighted) in South Jersey Magazine, Volume 8, Issue 3 (June, 2011).
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