Spring field Fire Co. ush­ers in the sea­son of thanks

Daily Times (Primos, PA) - - OPINION -

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.

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