PIMENTO, Ind. (WTWO/WAWV) — When Kourtney Gummere found out she was pregnant as a teenager, she knew she still wanted to prioritize her own individual goals.

“I had a determination because I didn’t want to be like a statistic,” Kourtney said. “I had the drive for my daughter to make something of myself. So, I went to college and then I went up and got my Master’s.”

Kourtney later found the fire service industry, which she said felt like a calling and a way to show her kids the remarkable impact a person can make by helping others.

Volunteering with the Pierson Fire Department in Pimento also brought Kourtney to her husband, James.

“This department is a small volunteer department – we’re all like family,” Kourtney said. “He (James) has been in the fire service for over 20 years. He was actually one of my instructors when I started. Just the knowledge of us getting to work together and, you know, a lot of times we already know what the other person’s thinking, so we’re able to build on that.”

Kourtney has dedicated a lot of time to mentoring other young women who are interested in the fire service field.

“Less than 5% of the women in the United States are firefighters,” Kourtney shared. “So to have, to raise that percentage just makes me ecstatic. I love to go do public education stuff, daycares, elementary schools; to see that and to see young women and young girls want to do this, it excites me. I love being able to teach them and mentor them.”

Kourtney’s daughter, Mallory, was with her through her schooling and the beginning of her career at the fire station. Mallory was also one of the young women being trained as a cadet firefighter in Pimento.

Then, in October 2021, Mallory was killed in a car wreck at the age of 16. Kourtney took some time away from the department to heal, but said she knew she ultimately would return.

“There were a lot of people that thought we would quit, or at least I would quit,” Kourtney recalled. “It has been difficult. I’ve had my struggles, but Mallory would not want me to quit.”

Instead, Kourtney and her loved ones worked to start a lovelikemal Foundation in Mallory’s memory.

“We actually have a lovelikemal scholarship to keep her legacy going,” Kourtney shared. “She’s a very loving person and she would do anything for anybody; not a person didn’t like Mallory.”

Despite her loss, Kourtney’s focus remains on how to better the lives of others and understand what other people are going through in their own lives.

“Yes, I lost a child, but there could be somebody over here that’s struggling,” Kourtney said. “Everybody’s situation is different, so take it a day at a time and never give up on your dreams. Always find a way.”

The lovelikemal Memorial Fund is set up through Terre Haute Savings Bank. The #lovelikemal hashtag can be used on social media to spread word of the foundation, as well.