First responders show support for firefighter battling cancer
LAGRANGE COUNTY, Ind. – A firefighting mom is battling the blaze of stage four breast cancer, and a group dedicated to supporting first responders threw her a surprise showing of encouragement Sunday.
Up to 15 police and fire departments from northern Indiana and Michigan paraded from Prairie Heights High School to the Ritchie household in show of support and spiritual bond.
“I think it touches all our hearts deeply,” Curtis Pruitt of Johnson Township Fire Department said.
“Any time we can show our support and show each other that we’re there for them, it means a lot to each and every one of us.”
For eight years Kristin Ritchie and her husband Chuck served Mongo Volunteer Fire Department.
“Chuck and Kristin have been through a lot, and had some rough times with cancer, and being a cancer survivor myself I know what kind of lows you can get into,” Mongo VFD Assistant Chief Joshua Phillips said.
“It’s important to know you have family that can be around, and be there and support you and help lift you up. And to know that you have that to lean on regardless of what goes on is important.”
So Mongo VFD Chief Josh Watts and his crew organized the “Signal 10 for Heroes” salute parade.
It’s part of the “Shields Under Fire” support initiative for fellow volunteer first responders.
“As volunteers, it’s hard to get help that we need, the counseling that we need because we’re volunteers,” Watts said.
“So we wanted to come up with an organization that we could go and talk to different counseling services, different churches.”
“I will never forget this,” Ritchie said.
“My kids will never forget this. I’m so glad we are part of a community that gets together for people like this. Not just myself but for others in need. I love it.”
Ritchie maintains a simple message for those who might battle a similar flame in their lives.
“Never give up hope,” Ritchie said.
“Never stop fighting. There’s always hope. There’s always hope. Never stop fighting.”
Mongo VFD is accepting donations to the family on the Shields Under Fire website.