Gabe Furst, a 15 year old sophomore at Northeastern High School and a volunteer firefighter, is collecting donations to create a paracord survival bracelet
Gabe Furst, a 15 year old sophomore at Northeastern High School and a volunteer firefighter, is collecting donations to create a paracord survival bracelet for every firefighter, medical personnel, and police officer who responded to the Sandy Hook Elementary tragedy. ( John A. Pavoncello /

One down, 999 more to go.

That's how many additional paracord bracelets a 15-year-old firefighter with Union Fire Co. in Manchester plans to make for first responders who arrived on the scene of the deadly shooting that left 26 dead at Sandy Hook Elementary School.

He's also making the bracelets, made of lightweight nylon rope, for 911 dispatchers and for students who attend the Newtown, Conn., school.

"This will be the first official one for Sandy Hook," said Gabe Furst, an exterior firefighter, meaning he can't enter a burning building. "Only about a thousand more to go."

The black bracelet with a thin red line running down the middle, will serve as inspiration for Gabe and those who help him on his quest to honor those who saw the worst of humanity earlier this month.

"This will be the last one that gets packed," said the 10th-grade student at Northeastern High School as he held up the bracelet. "It'll be out every time we start making them."

The bracelets: Gabe won't be alone as he makes the bracelets. He's soliciting the help of fellow firefighters, family and friends.

He devised different designs for those who will receive a bracelet.

Firefighters and medics will receive bracelets with a red cord in the center. Police officers will receives ones with a blue cord in the center, while 911 dispatchers will receive bracelets with an American flag theme.

Sandy Hook students will receive bracelets infused with green and white, the school colors.

Gabe said he came up with the idea to make the tokens over the weekend while watching news coverage of the tragedy on television.

"I came to think that it would be nice for all the first responders (and students) to get one," he said. "The thought is that there's someone thinking of them. Really it's a brotherhood."

Getting help: From there, Gabe set up a website to collect funds to help offset the cost of supplies.

As of Tuesday, he'd collected more than $500 for the project but has a goal of $5,000. Any remaining money will be given to a Newtown fire department.

With the Christmas and New Year's break coming up, Gabe said he's hoping to have all of the bracelets finished sometime in January.

While a local business has donated money to have the bracelets shipped to Connecticut, Gabe and fellow firefighter Lt. Brian Spangenberger may hand deliver the package themselves.

"It'll be nice to go up there," Spangenberger said.

Reach Greg Gross at

Donations sought

Gabe Furst, a 10th-grader at Northeastern High School and an exterior firefighter at Union Fire Co. in Manchester, is collecting donations to offset costs for making bracelets for Sandy Hook Elementary School students and first responders who responded to Friday's mass killing.

Furst is asking for a donation of $3 per bracelet.

To make a contribution, go to Checks made out to Gabriel Furst can be sent to 4721 N. Sherman St., Mount Wolf, PA 17347.

- Reach Greg Gross at