The formation of the Palo Alto Firefighters Charitable Fund started in 2003 when Palo Alto Firefighter Lee Taylor wanted to have more of an impact in the community. Palo Alto citizens and visitors to Palo Alto were well aware of the professional skills and care provided to them through daily emergency calls, fire and medical responses. He wanted to enhance the Firefighters presence within the community by providing valuable services that were not emergency based. To this end he came up with the idea of starting a Scholarship Fund. One that would assist graduating high school seniors get into a college and career path of their choosing.
In the spring of 2003, to raise money for this newly formed Scholarship Fund he rode solo, on his mountain bicycle from the Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco to Los Angeles (495 miles) in 5 days. The Palo Alto Firefighters generously supported his efforts with donations, from this event the first 4 scholarships were given away. In 2004 with a support vehicle and 4 additional riders, they retraced the original route to Los Angeles, this time on bicycles made for the road. The Palo Alto Firefighters, their families and friends, again generously supported this ride. 16 scholarships were given away to graduating high school seniors that year.
During the summer of 2005, Firefighters Mike Chiesa and David Shum approached Lee Taylor with an idea for raising money for the Scholarship Fund and other charities. Their idea was to commercially produce the hot sauce that Lee had been making in the kitchen of the Fire House since 1994. In late 2005 using Lee’s original recipe the first test batch of Palo Alto Firefighters Pepper Sauce was commercially made. The idea was a good one as it sold out in a week. With the thought that this could be big, a business structure was created to support the sale of the Pepper Sauce and to disseminate the profits to various charities including the Scholarship Fund.
In March of 2006 Palo Alto Firefighters Charitable Fund was born. Working through the Internal Revenue Service, Secretary of State and the Attorney Generals Office a non-profit corporation was formed. It has federal 501 ( c) (3) tax-exempt status and is a registered charity operating in the State of California. IRS ID# 20-4656510, Calif Corp#2860084
Although the bicycle rides have not continued. The unwavering support has. A big “thank you” to the Palo Alto Firefighters and all the people who enjoy Palo Alto Firefighters Pepper Sauce.
As of October 2023, 183 college scholarships have been awarded to deserving high school graduates from the Palo Alto community. If you are ever in the area feel free to stop by the Headquarters Station, Fire Station #6 and see the proudly displayed framed picture of all the past recipients. In conjunction with the scholarships an additional $65,000 has been donated to area charities over the last 18 years.
For direct retail sales of Palo Alto Firefighters Pepper Sauce please visit www.paloaltofirefighters.com or one of the retail outlets listed on the website. For wholesale or food service inquiries please contact us.