Hero 24/7: Alexandria firefighter gives back by helping kids with special needs


On her hardest days, Alexandria firefighter Ellen Zophy navigates dangerous situations.

“My job as a firefighter is very dirty,” Ellen said, laughing. “Very physically demanding.”

But at this moment, she's most concerned about steering her way around the Capitals' practice rink.

It's ice hockey day for the nonprofit Dreams for Kids DC, a charity that hosts different sports clinics every month for children with physical and developmental disabilities.

Often with professional athletes, including the Capitals.

Ellen joined the group three years ago.

“I was at a point in my life where I realized I’ve had a lot of extra time with the firefighter schedule during the day,” Ellen said, “so I was like, you know what? I can do something during the day and be helpful to my community and do something that's really great, and make somebody's day better.”

As a volunteer, Ellen helps guide kids in activities in which they normally wouldn't get to participate.

Ann-Marie Ward says the clinics empower her son Zachary.

“He knows that it's coming, and he's just so excited for something that's just for him,” Ward said. “Rather than have to watch on the sidelines.”

And that's why Ellen continues to volunteer her time, something her mom encouraged her to do from a young age.

“It’s just who I am,” Ellen said. “I really enjoy being out with people and getting involved with people and making a change in the community. That's something that really means something to me.”

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