Weekly Feature

2014-07-17 / Front Page

Area fire departments help Roswell patient find positivity

Anna Walters

Dave Blank, a   patient at Roswell Park Cancer Institute and  a volunteer firefighter with the North Boston Fire Company, has   a new way to get motivated in his fight against a disease. 
Blank hopes   to obtain   a T-shirt from every fire department  in Erie County so that he can wear a different shirt for each day of   his treatment.

“It kind of gives me the feeling that each fire company has my back, and that stems from the brotherhood of the fire companies,” Blank said.

The firefighter expressed the idea in a conversation with  Kelly Smith, a lieutenant in the Williamsville Fire Department.  Smith then   initiated  a donation project by reaching out to  fire departments in the area.    Blank says it “exploded from there.”

According to Blank, he  was diagnosed in mid-June with acute myeloid leukemia. He says it’s ironic because his 22-year-old daughter, Brianna,  is a leukemia survivor.
Blank says there’s a  role reversal now, and Brianna is “making sure dad is doing what he’s supposed to do.”
He says he thought the T-shirts would be inspirational  because firefighters consider one another family.

“We started off small with a message to our Amherst fire companies, and because of the strong brotherhood of the fire service, the message spread throughout the state in less than a day,” said Michael  Measer, chief of the Williamsville Fire Department. “We hope that this project will help to keep Dave strong throughout his treatment.”
Blank says he currently has about  12 to 13 fire department T-shirts in his room, and the  furthest is from the  Lewisburg Fire Company,  which is located in Ohio.

“I think it’s wonderful; it’s all a testament to the brotherhood,” he said. “When someone else is in need, or down and out, they’re always there to help you out.”

According to Blank, being a part of the fire service is his  way of giving back to the community, and he has  enjoyed  going to schools and teaching fire prevention.

“ I love it. I’ve been  doing it ever since I got out of high school,” he said.

 Blank, who grew up in  Lake View,   has been in the fire service for  more than 30 years and says he recently  received his 25-year plaque from the North Boston Fire Company.

 “It gives me a good feeling because I’m in here for such a lengthy amount of time and it’s nice to know I’m not forgotten,” Blank said. “I’m the type who would spearhead something like this if I knew one of my friends were in the same predicament.”

T-shirts can be dropped off at the Bee Group Newspapers office, located at 5564 Main St., Williamsville. 
For more information, visit  www.hutchinsonhose.com or email chief@hutchinsonhose.com.

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