He was helping clean up the yard behind his family’s home in North Carolina. They were burning leaves and somehow, an aerosol can found its way close to the flame.
“I remember it exactly. I turned left and my arm was back behind me. The stuff in that can sprayed out and got me from the top of my bicep to my fingers,” said Dove, who went on to found the Dove Brothers, a country and Southern gospel group, with his brothers.
Next week, the Dove Brothers will perform along with The Old Paths and comedian Tim Lovelace in a benefit for the Southeastern Firefighters Burn Foundation. The 18th annual Gospel Sing will be held at Whole Life Ministries on Sept. 24.
“To us, this is more than a singing,” said Dove, the lead vocalist for the group. “To us, this is a very special event and it’s needed not just for your community, but the whole region.”
That’s because just half of the patients at the Joseph M. Still Burn Center at Doctors Hospital are from Georgia, said Jo Maypole, president and CEO of the non-profit Southeastern Firefighters Burn Foundation.
“When there’s a catastrophic burn, there’s a ripple effect. There are financial effects,” she said. “Families sometime stay for weeks.”
The foundation was created to provide assistance to families of patients being treated at the burn center. The organization provides free lodging, meals, transportation for family members, as well as medications and anti-scarring garments for patients upon discharge from the hospital.
“When we get too full, we pay for hotel rooms. When they get ready to go home, we sometimes need to buy a bus ticket or gas for a follow-up visit,” Maypole said. “We make sure a patient doesn’t leave with out the antibiotics or pain medicine they need.”
The Burn Foundation couldn’t have the impact it does without the help of volunteers, Maypole said.
“We have dozens of volunteers who work with us. Some work every day in the house,” she said. “Churches in Augusta and civic organizations across this city provide a hot meal for every day of the year.”
About 60 churches and organizations participate in the daily meals program.
“Faith-based groups are such an important part of this organization,” Maypole said. “We have groups that pray for our patients and families every day. They bring in meals without fail. People say, ‘This has been a God-send for our families.’”
Dove says the services are essential to families who have encountered traumatic burns, especially those with children. About 25 percent of admissions at the burn center were for patients under the age of 16.
“I was burned before there were any burn centers around. Every other day we had to go to the hospital. I’d been scared to death if my parents hadn’t been with me,” Dove said. “When people give, you’re keeping the burn house going and operating. This is so important. If I were in that situation again, I’d be very thankful there was a place like this where I can be with my child.”
Though the economy is tough, Dove said he hopes large crowds show up for the event.
“It’s hard to sing to an empty seat. We need people there. It’s for a good cause. It’s not just a concert. It’s more,” he said. “ We know people can’t do what they use to. The economy is bad, but I tell you, if you’ve got children - and I’ve got four - you’d want the help of the Burn Foundation. It’s worth more than anything. Put yourself in someone else’s shoes. If you were burned, you’d want your mom and dad there with you.”