Brendan was on the verge of becoming a hopeless, inveterate heroin addict when he, for the sake of his young daughter, decided to turn his life around. He enlisted in the Granite Mountain Hotshots, a crew of elite hotshot firefighters based in Prescott, Arizona. Their superintendent, Eric Marsh, was in a desperate crunch after four hotshots left the crew, and seeing a glimmer of promise in the skinny would-be recruit, he took a chance on the unlikely McDonough, and the chance paid off. Despite the crew’s skepticism, and thanks in large part to Marsh’s firm but loving encouragement, McDonough unlocked a latent drive and dedication, going on to successfully battles a number of blazes and he eventually wins the confidence of the men he came to call his brothers.
Then, on June 30, 2013, while McDonough–“Donut” as he’d been dubbed by his crew–served as lookout, they confronted a freak, 3,000-degree inferno in nearby Yarnell, Arizona. The relentless firestorm ultimately trapped his hotshot brothers, tragically killing all 19 of them within minutes. Nationwide, it was the greatest loss of firefighter lives since the 9/11 attacks.
After the unfathomable loss of that day, McDonough suffered from seemingly insurmountable bouts of depression, Post-Traumatic Stress, and issues with alcohol. But the light of hope that inspired him to keep living in one of his darkest moments—his family who needed him—inspired the firefighter to fight on against depression, addiction and to inspire others to find their best selves, even if that means often looking beyond the self. Building a sense of brotherhood within communities gives McDonough great joy – because it helps this fighter honor the legacy of his 19 lost, but not forgotten, brothers.
“My goal in life is to share Christ by speaking, teaching, and leading by example. To be a father that is present and supportive of my family and children. To fight for the opportunity to set free those who suffer from addiction and trauma.”
Awards, Recognition, and Accomplishments
Brendan has done much to provide support for both veterans and first responders, as they are close to his heart. Through a nonprofit organization 22KILL, he was recognized for his service and received the key to the city of Fort Worth, Texas. He currently speaks as a motivational speaker for many public and private events. While medical(PTSD) problems forced him to give up his career as a firefighter, he believes that his larger purpose in life is to help others recover from trauma like he suffered and to offer treatments such as faith BASED counseling and therapy for recovery. Post-traumatic stress disorder and alcoholism, opioid addiction are particularly common among the demographics Holdfast Recovery treats due to the trauma individuals face in these careers.
A Faith-Fueled Recovery
Brendan’s life was much like that of the people who walk through the doors of Holdfast Recovery today. It took hard work to get where he is, but his faith has made it possible to free him from the shame and guilt that was holding him prisoner. His relationship with Jesus and Christian-based treatment has helped him heal and help others do the same. With the support of his friends and family members and the Prescott community, Brendan McDonough now has created purpose from his pain by establishing Holdfast Recovery. Fellow first responders and men who are struggling with drugs and alcohol have a safe harbor to recover and free themselves from addiction just as Brendan did.