"It’s hard to explain. I think everyone on the team has a deep passion to help other people. To be directly involved in saving somebody’s life is a pretty amazing experience."
To be directly involved in saving somebody’s life is a pretty amazing experience.
Emergencies have no schedule, no specific time. They are indiscriminate and can strike anyone at any time. That’s why John May, Chief of Wolfe County Search and Rescue and his fellow team members train hard every day. They must be ready at a moment’s notice to put their lives on the line to save people in need. John has spent the past 14 years volunteering as both a team member and leader of the famed unit. In that time, John has participated in countless rescue operations saving the lives of hundreds of hikers, mountain climbers, tourists, and lost children and adults. Born and raised near his Campton, Kentucky home, John has worked tirelessly to improve his community throughout his life.
Wolfe County Search and Rescue is an all-volunteer non-profit organization that watches over and serves the Red River Gorge and Daniel Boone National Forest in Eastern Kentucky. It’s a rugged and remote region that is popular with outdoor enthusiast of every skill level. John and his team respond to an average of 50 rescues a year. John’s team specializes in Technical Rope Rescues. Many of their missions involve victims who have fallen over cliffs hundreds of feet in height, Kayaking accidents, broken bones, and sadly, sometimes fatalities. It’s tough work both mentally and physically, and the residents of Wolfe County are fortunate to have brave men and women like John at the ready.
“Living in a very poor rural area of Eastern Kentucky, volunteers are critically important,” John said. “Our local fire dept and even a good portion of our local police dept are volunteers. In my case, we see nearly one million visitors a year to our wilderness area. When tourist find themselves in trouble, without our team or the other surrounding county’s teams, there would not be anyone available to rescue them. Volunteering is critical to our mission.”
With all the dangers he faces on duty, what does John do to relax? “I enjoy backpacking, hiking, rock climbing and of course, spending time with my family,” he said. “And I’m serious about my Cabot Seriously Sharp Cheddar!” he joked.
In 2017, John completed a backpacking trip of more than 323 miles on the Sheltowee Trace. He did the hike in honor of his father who passed away just months earlier.
This will be John’s third Cabot Community Celebrity Cruise. He was first honored by Cabot with a cruise in 2015. He then joined us as an alumnus in 2017 on our trip to Alaska. We’re honored to have John join us again as a 2019 Community Celebrity Cruise alumnus. Joining John on the cruise will be his wife Kathi, and their daughter, Madison Grace.