Flanked by a dozen or so fire department colleagues, Henderson Battalion Chief Lee Edmonds presented a check for more than $19,000 to members of the Maria Parham Health Oncology Department on Thursday afternoon.
The money – $19,070.06 to be exact – will be deposited into the cancer center’s Angel Fund, which helps cancer patients in a variety of ways – from helping defray transportation costs to buying medicine and equipment. Hope Breedlove, a social worker at Maria Parham, said the gift for the Angel Fund comes from angels in the community, courtesy of the fire department’s annual “fill the boot” campaign.
“You’re the angels behind the Angel Fund,” Breedlove told the firefighters upon accepting the donation.
Breedlove said 100 percent of the money goes to meet the very special needs of the patients that come to Maria Parham for treatment.
She said the’s crunched the numbers and roughly two patients each day get help from the Angel Fund. “That’d be two treatments that they wouldn’t get,” were it not for the money made available through the firefighters’ fundraising.
The fundraiser had humble beginnings eight years ago with a t-shirt sale, but for the past five years, firefighters have positioned themselves empty boots in hand, in front of the fire station on Dabney Drive, asking for donations.
Edmonds and colleagues handed over the fruits of their labor Thursday afternoon to hospital staff outside the entrance to the Cancer Center, Big Engine 1 providing the backdrop for the presentation.
“This has been a hard year for us,” Edmonds told those assembled to witness the presentation. Fire Chief Steve Cordell lost a valiant battle with cancer in January.
Tim Twisdale was selected to succeed Cordell and he was on hand Thursday as well. “Thank you,” he told the hospital staff, many of whom were in their work scrubs, “for what you’re doing…for all who may not have the necessary funds” to get to and from appointments and treatments.
City Manager Terrell Blackmon echoed those sentiments, adding that city leaders appreciate what the hospital does for the community.
Blackmon said his father died of cancer, and he knows firsthand the impact that cancer has on its victims and their loved ones.