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Gary Yurt: the WHAS Crusade for Children

A devoted philanthropist, Gary Yurt has supported several causes. One of the primary organizations that Gary Yurt contributes to is the WHAS Crusade for Children.

Since its inception in 1954, the WHAS Crusade for Children has raised more than $148 million to improve the lives of children with special needs. This money has had a direct effect on the lives of millions of children. The organization makes grants directly to schools, agencies, and hospitals that provide specialized services for these children. Operated primarily by volunteers, Crusade for Children has funneled 100 percent of all donations directly to other organizations throughout Kentucky and Indiana.

Each year, the Crusade Advisory Panel meets to decide how the organization can most effectively distribute the funding that it has raised. The board consists of interdenominational ministers who review applications for grants submitted on behalf of a wide range of different institutions and organizations. Representatives from these institutions and organizations come to a hearing each spring to discuss their need for funding. The board makes final decisions after hearing from all grant applicants.


The National Incident Management System’s Role in National Emergencies

Gary Yurt, President of Industrial Safety and Training Services, based in Kentucky, worked in the massive cleanup after the BP Oil Deepwater Horizon oil spill in the Gulf Coast in 2010. Through the National Incident Management System (NIMS), Gary Yurt worked as a safety officer on the coasts of Louisiana, Texas, Mississippi, and Alabama. In collaboration with the National Response Framework (NRF), NIMS provides a framework for responders to emergency events on the local, state, and federal levels.

NIMS involvement in natural and man-made disasters facilitates a more efficient, unified approach to managing incidents, with standard management and command structures. The system focuses on such areas as preparedness, resource management, and mutual aid. The Secretary of Homeland Security develops guidelines, protocols, and compliance procedures for every aspect of NIMS. The NRF implements the mechanisms for incident management on the national level.

Gary Yurt: Responsibilities of a Safety Manager

While most employees are appreciative of the safety measures taken at their place of business, they may be unaware of the complete scope of responsibilities of its safety manager. Gary Yurt, President of Industrial Safety and Training Services in Prospect, Kentucky, has served as a safety manager for more than two decades. Here he shares his insight on what this occupation entails.

Training – Safety managers are responsible for training all managers and supervisors in safety and health, investigation, and accident prevention.

Inspection – Safety managers are also expected to conduct routine inspections of a workplace to ensure there are no hazardous chemicals or conditions present at the site. Informal inspections are an effective way to identify and rectify hazards immediately.

Education – Safety meetings should be held on a regular basis in order to inform both new and existing employees of safety procedures related to their occupation.

Gary Yurt has extensive experience as a safety manager, having served in this capacity for companies such as General Electric and Borden Chemical. As President of Industrial Safety and Training Services, he advises clients on all matters related to safety and emergency management.

The WHAS Crusade for Children

As President of Industrial Safety and Training Services, Gary Yurt has witnessed distress and many people in need. This is why he takes a particular interest in supporting the WHAS Crusade for Children, Inc., in Kentucky. Founded in 1954 by WHAS-TV, the project raises funds to assist children with disabilities through donations to schools, agencies, and hospitals. With the help of Gary Yurt and other supporters, the crusade has raised more than $148 million, including more than $5.1 million in 2011.

On the first full weekend each June, the WHAS Crusade airs a telethon on the radio, television, and Internet. Various agencies, medical facilities, and schools apply for grants, and an advisory panel decides which groups will receive funds. The organizations serve the targeted children in every county of Kentucky and dozens of counties in southern Indiana. The WHAS Crusade for Children disperses 100 percent of the donations it receives.

“A History of the WHAS Crusade for Children,” by Gary Yurt

In 1949, NBC made television history by broadcasting the first-ever telethon. Hosted by Milton Berle and lasting 16 hours, the event raised more than $1 million for the Damon Runyan Memorial Cancer Fund. Five years later, WHAS-TV in Louisville, Kentucky, launched its own effort to raise money for charity: the WHAS Crusade for Children. It would not have been possible without support from station owner Barry Bingham Sr., who also served as editor and publisher of the local newspapers. On October 16, 1954, in Louisville’s Memorial Auditorium, actors Pat O’Brien and Pedro Gonzalez helped the first telecast bring in $157,000 in pledges. Over the years, other headliners have included Captain Kangaroo, Doc Severinsen, Kenny Rogers, the Neville Brothers, magician Lance Burton, Lee Greenwood, and Peabo Bryson.

Since its beginning in 1954, the telethon has helped raise more than $148 million, all of which goes to schools, hospitals, and agencies devoted to assisting children with special needs in Kentucky and southern Indiana. The Crusade for Children’s other key component is local fire departments, which conduct road blocks and other fundraising events.

Held annually during the first full weekend in June, the Crusade airs on television as well as radio (WHAS AM 840) and the Internet (

About the author:
Safety consultant Gary Yurt has more than 27 years of experience as a volunteer and career firefighter, with an eight-year tenure as fire chief for Louisville’s Worthington Fire Department.