Fam­ily helps fire com­pany launch $5 mil­lion cam­paign

Fort Han­son sta­tion in Edge­wood be­friended boy when he had can­cer

Baltimore Sun - - NEWS - By David An­der­son daan­der­son@balt­sun.com

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.

DAVID AN­DER­SON/BAL­TI­MORE SUN ME­DIA GROUP PHO­TOS

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.

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