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South Salt Lake Journal

Firefighter Russ Groves’ community-minded outlook lives on through scholarship

Nov 18, 2021 02:47PM ● By Bill Hardesty

The LionHeart Gift Foundation is now accepting applications for the Russ Groves Memorial Scholarship for firefighter cadets. (Courtesy of the LionHeart Gift Foundation)

By Bill Hardesty | [email protected]

The LionHeart Gift Foundation is accepting applications for the Russ Groves Memorial Firefighter Scholarship. The scholarship is to help pay for the tuition for firefighter cadets who are going through the Firefighter Academy.

Utah Valley University is starting a Recruit Candidate Academy in early January. They are offering two classes: one Monday/Wednesday/Friday and the other Tuesday/Thursday/Saturday. Each class is from 7:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. The times are subject to change.

Since the academy is starting in January, applications are due in late December or early January. An application and further details are available at the LionHeart Foundation website

RG Memorial Scholarship

The Russ Groves Memorial Scholarship was created to honor Russ Groves. Groves served as the Fire Marshal in South Salt Lake. On the evening of Nov. 15, 2019, Groves unexpectedly died.

“Russ Groves was a true lionheart,” Jerry Silva, president, and co-founder, said. “A man who gave his life to service and helping his community. To know Russ was to have a friend.”

Groves was a founding member of the LionHeart Gift Foundation established in 2016 to give back to local first responders.

“He leaves a legacy. A legacy of community. As he always gave to his community,” Silva said. “The Russ Groves Scholarship through the LionHeart Gift Foundation is our way of keeping his legacy alive and giving back to our local fire community. The scholarship will provide financial assistance to fire cadets going through the fire academy.”

Besides Groves legacy, the RG Memorial Scholarship also highlights the importance of mental health among first responders.

“As any first responder, we want to make sure his legacy lives on and that we address the issues of PTSD and mental health with first responders,” Silva said. “Russ lived life large, and as we know the ones who shine the brightest are the ones whose internal fire burns out the quickest. We want to provide awareness and help educate people to reach out to others and get help. That is a message we will always share through his memory.”

Russ Groves

Groves begin his career at the Salt County Fire Department. He served as a fire marshal in Midvale and Murray. He then retired. However, after a year of retirement, he joined the South Salt Lake Fire Department as the fire marshal in 2016.

He had friends across the valley.

“Russ was a man who gave his heart and soul to his community and friends. He was a giver and would make sure if he just met you, he made you feel like lifetime friends. He would give the shirt off his back to anyone in need,” Silva said.

LionHeart Gift Foundation

“The LionHeart Gift Foundation was created to show appreciation by giving back to those who put their lives on the line, protect and serve our communities and our country, in essence, a Lionheart,” states their website,

The notion for the Foundation occurred while the founders were visiting the Law Enforcement Memorial in Washington, D.C. 

As part of the memorial are statues of a lion and lioness symbolically protecting the names on the wall. The founders thought about the many family members these, and other individuals, left behind.

The Foundation used the LionHeart as a symbol of the unselfish giving of law enforcement members, the military, firefighters, 911 dispatchers and registered nurses.

The Foundation partners with participating realtors. The LionHeart, a person receiving assistance, is eligible to receive a gift by way of commissions. The participating realtor gifts 20% to the LionHeart, a person in need, and 5% to the Foundation.

As the Foundation receives donations, LGF can help a LionHeart or a LionHeart family in need.

The Foundation also holds an annual Russ Groves Memorial Golf Tournament and supports the American Foundation of Suicide Prevention Utah chapter in honor of Russ Groves.