Spring field Fire Co. ushers in the season of thanks
The Blackburn family of Kannapolis, N.C., has seen more than their share of life’s misfortune.
Recently, while driving through Delaware County, they encountered a bit more.
The Blackburns – mother Christa, dad Kevin, 5-yearold Isaiah and 2-year-old Aria – were in town so that Aria could continue her treatment for eye cancer at Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia and Wills Eye Hospital.
They had just left Philadelphia International Airport and stopped at the Target store in Springfield Mall to pick up a few supplies for their stay in the area.
That’s when life dealt them another setback.
They were involved in a car crash. Springfield firefighters responded as they always do. Luckily, the injuries were minor. While one rescue crew member tended to mom Christa’s banged-up arm, a couple other first responders sat on the ground with Isaiah and Aria, trying to keep them occupied and their thoughts on some more pleasant activities. They played games with the kids.
The Blackburns were soon back on their way.
But their story stayed with the Springfield firefighters.
It’s part of the job. They sign up to help others. They run toward trouble when everyone else is heading in the other direction.
Some incidents stay with them.
Such as the plight of the Blackburn family.
Once back at the station, several Springfield firefighters could not shake the circumstances the Blackburns were dealing with. They decided – as they do every day – to try to make a difference.
They wanted to do something to help the family out as little Aria continued to get treatment for her retinoblastoma, a form of eye cancer.
Springfield firefighter Dan Traband Jr. talked to his fellow company members as well as his girlfriend about the Blackburns’ situation. He figured the least he could is send a card to their North Carolina home. He mentioned it to fellow fireman Bob Bansept, who also had been on the crew that responded to the accident, and he said he would match it. Traband also talked about with his supervisor Michael Norman Jr. It’s clear the family’s plight had struck a chord with these dedicated professionals who respond to accident scenes like this at least a dozen times a week.
“Just when you think you have a bad day, you come across a story like this, and your bad day is no longer a bad day. Others are having a worse day,” Traband said. “Fifteen years in the fire service and you never really have that one story that pulls your heart out of your chest, and then you come across this.”
Norman knows the feeling.
“Being a dad of two at home, it really hits you,” Norman said. “These people really need help, more help than most people need.”
The feeling must be contagious. Soon the entire Springfield fire house was involved. They decided to buy a gift card for the family. But it quickly grew beyond that. In 36 hours, they raised a total of $1,750 that will go to help out the Blackburns as well as the Ronald McDonald House of Children’s Hospital, where the family was staying and which routinely offers a place for families to stay while their loved ones are receiving treatment.
Four of the six firefighters who had responded to the accident scene had a chance to visit with the Blackburns last week. The meeting was coordinated by Ronald McDonald House officials, who posted a video on social media.
The Blackburns were unaware of the real reason why the firefighters were visiting them, thinking perhaps that they were returning something from the accident scene.
The video of their visit has been viewed nearly 9,000 times.
Christa Blackburn hugged the firefighters and thanked them for what they did.
“We are so humbled by the Springfield Fire Company’s generosity and kindness,” Christa Blackburn wrote on her Facebook page. “These men right here are true heroes. Thank you, thank you, thank you.”
Now comes the best part. Christa Blackburn informed them that Aria is now cancer-free after two years of treatment that included 18 trips to CHOP.
And one memorable jaunt through Delaware County.
It’s a reminder that firefighters are indeed very special people.
We salute the members of the Springfield Fire Co. for going above and beyond the call of duty when a family from out of the area needed a helping hand.
We are happy that little Aria received a clean bill of health.
As we enter into the season of thanks, it’s a reminder of just how much we have to be thankful for right here in our own communities.
A group of Springfield firefighters responded to a crash scene and helped a family from North Carolina. When they learned why they were here, they decided to do a little more. From left in the back row are firefighters Vince Procopio, Michael Norman, Dan Traband and Bob Tracey; front row is the Blackburn family, Christa, Isiah, Kevin and Aria.