Kindness Behind the Shield: Captain David Gerstung

Kindness Behind The Shield

For the past 10 years, Captain Gerstung has helped grant wishes of seriously ill children in our community, providing smiles and much needed joy. 

“I was raised that when you see a problem you try to fix the problem, so I try to engage myself.  When I see something I try to make it better.  I want to be able to do that,” said Captain David Gerstung, Kern County Fire Department. 

That childhood teaching hit home about 10 years ago when Captain Gerstung’s niece, Ryan Wiggins, was diagnosed with leukimia.

Wiggins four years-old and dreamed of going to Disney World. 

Make-A-Wish stepped in and made her dreams come true. 

“It helped me not like think about it because I knew we were going to have a good time,” said Ryan Wiggins in 2012 after her trip to Disney World. 

“The wishes help a child separate from their treatment and get back to being a child,” Gerstung said. 

The experience gave the family a new purpose. 

“We know that there are other families out there just like ours.  We want to be helpful,” Gerstung said. 

Gerstung joined his brother, Kern County Firefighter Matthew Wiggins, and their father, retired Bakersfield Fire Battalion Chief Ken Wiggins, to raise money for the Make-A-Wish foundation. 

“We got together and we figured we could do something with Make-A-Wish to help Kern County,” Gerstung said. 

The family formed Heroes and Helmets for Hope, bringing together county and city firefighters to raise money to grant the wishes of local children. 

“We’ve raised over half a million dollars since we started doing it,” Gerstung said. 

Make-A-Wish gets more than 55 wish requests a month in Bakersfield. 

If you do the math, Gerstung and his family have helped grant roughly 550 wishes. 

“David and his family, this is their event (Heroes and Helmets for Hope).  They’re helping to grant wishes in our community and Make-A-Wish is forever in David’s debt and for the whole Wiggins family,” said Catherine Anspach, Make-A-Wish. 

Ryan Wiggins is now cancer free and doing well.

To Captain Gerstung and the entire Wiggins family, thank you for your Kindness Behind the Shield.

If you know of someone in law enforcement, a firefighter, paramedic, or dispatcher who deserves to be honored, nominate them here

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