Family helps fire company launch $5 million campaign
Fort Hanson station in Edgewood befriended boy when he had cancer
During her son’s three-year battle with leukemia, Karen Nicholson says, members of the Joppa-Magnolia Volunteer Fire Company in Harford County were a constant pillar of support.
Fire company members warmly greeted Nathaniel, 6, every time he visited the Hanson Road firehouse in Edgewood.
They checked in on the family routinely, gave Nathaniel a fire helmet — which he took to his cancer treatment appointments — and made him an honorary fire chief.
Karen Nicholson and her husband, Robert, say they want to repay the kindness. They’re helping the fire company launch a $5 million fundraising campaign to upgrade the station, known as Fort Hanson.
Nathaniel, the youngest of six children, was diagnosed with leukemia in 2012, when he was 2.
His mother recalled pushing him in his stroller past the fire station one day, and he “squealed in delight” as a fire truck driver honked at them.
“That was just the beginning of a John Gray of the Joppa-Magnolia Volunteer Fire Company points out the company’s primary service area. The fire company is working with the Nicholson family to raise $5 million to upgrade the Hanson Road facility. long-term relationship that we’ve had with them,” she said.
After that first encounter, fire company president Jim Lyons said, his members “went out of their way to befriend this kid.”
Nathaniel will turn 7 this week. He has been clear of cancer since August 2015, his mother said.
In June, the company presented a plan to county officials for a two-story, 5,000square-foot addition to the station. The project would expand living quarters and vehicle space at the 26-year-old facility.
The county appropriated $700,000 for the project, but the rest must be raised by the volunteer company.
On Saturday, the Nicholsons joined members of Mountain Christian Church and the fire company to launch Fund the Fort.
The Nicholsons say they will help solicit donations for the drive and take part in community outreach efforts to tell people what the project means to the community.
“These guys and gals are very near and dear to us,” said Karen Nicholson. “If I can help them, if I can help the community, then that’s what I want to do.”
Lyons said crews assigned to Hanson Road handle about 5,000 fire and EMS calls a year, making the company one of Harford County’s busiest.
The one-story, 7,128 square-foot substation, one of three facilities operated by the Joppa-Magnolia company, was built in 1990 on property leased from the Army.
The fire company signed a new lease this year to remain there through 2040.
The company responds to calls throughout Joppa and Edgewood, and also to many calls in Abingdon, Bel Air, Fallston and parts of Baltimore County.
Karen Nicholson of Edgewood shows the many things members of the Joppa-Magnolia Volunteer Fire Company did to help her son, Nathaniel, right, when he was battling cancer.