TAMPA, Fla. (WFLA) – Sophia Cardenas is an extraordinary person and the perfect example of a triple threat; she’s gorgeous, smart and brave.
There’s no doubt this Tampa native carries a deep passion for her work as a firefighter. In fact, not only does she risk her life every day on the job, she’s also showcasing a different kind of bravery these days – one that every woman out there can certainly relate to in this modern day world of social media scrutiny.
Sophia is shedding her gear for a great cause – the women of Tampa Fire Rescue calendar, where female firefighters participate in a fundraising effort known worldwide. They raise money for pediatric burn victims.
Standing in Firehouse #6 on 22nd Street in Tampa, Sophia talked with News Channel 8. “It was a lot of fun to be a part of it, knowing that the end result is going to benefit others is the best part of it. It’s nice to take our boots off, put our hair down and put a little make-up on face and show we do have another side,” she said.
News Channel 8 had the honor of spending time with Sophia and her fellow firefighters behind the scenes as they posed for a purpose. They are delightful, strong, energetic women who admit they feel a lot more comfortable covered in 70 pounds of firefighter gear than being glammed up, perfectly coiffed and fancy.
As the ladies prepared for the 2016 calendar, 30-year-old Kirstin Schmitt described the makeover experience. “No one I know will recognize me. There was a whole team of hair and makeup people who spent hours putting my makeup on and curling my hair,” she laughed. “I don’t even know what I see when I look in the mirror. Normally, it’s throw on a sports bra and to the gym.”
The women gathered on a recent Monday in Downtown Tampa’s Curtis Hixon Park for an epic, picturesque photo shoot with the city skyline behind them. Pink cotton candy clouds dotted the skies at sunset, with shadows of Palm trees and the University of Tampa’s iconic Minarets showcased behind the heroes of Tampa Fire Rescue.
Sophia has participated in the calendar more than once and loves the outcome. It’s the prep process that can sometimes be difficult, she jokes. “A lot of physical training. We do sacrifice some sweets,” she explained.
She laughed when asked if she completely cuts out carbs. “The pasta and the cookies? Well, I don’t know if they get cut out, but they definitely got pushed back a little,” she said.
She said her buddies at the firehouse keep her focused. “They always make me second guess myself when I reach for another piece of bread,” Sophia told News Channel 8. “They keep me in line and help me out and keep me honest.”
What Sophia also enjoys is giving back to the city that raised her. She was born in Tampa, graduated from Sickles High School and attended Hillsborough Community College. The seven-year veteran of Tampa Fire Rescue is thrilled to help others through the calendar fundraiser, including pediatric burn victims. “It’s a humbling feeling that you can make a difference,” she said.
That’s what you’ll find as you speak with members of Tampa Fire Rescue as they take part in photo shoots each year. It’s all from the heart. And, while the photo shoots are fun, the beauty here is much more than skin deep.
“To me, glamour is in the heart. It’s nice that picture can be taken. It’s what the cause is for is what’s most important,” Sophia said. “To benefit others, that’s the best part of it.”