Oak Forest firefighters will be participating for the fourth year in the 6th Annual Fire Up A Cure event at Saint Xavier University at 3700 W. 103rd Street in Chicago on Saturday, July 22 from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Fire Up A Cure is a means to generate funds specifically to allow children to participate in fire cadet schools and cadet programs; providing another opportunity for children fighting cancer and survivors to participate in physical and social activities.
Firefighters from across Illinois sign up in teams to participate in various events, such as tug-of-war, jousting, obstacle courses, fire truck pull, and much more. Each team is assigned a pediatric cancer patient as its honorary coach for the event.
The Oak Forest Fire Department’s honorary coach is Ryne Ward, a 7-year-old Oak Forest resident who is a two-time cancer survivor. Ryne was diagnosed two years ago with kidney cancer, which unfortunately came back into his liver. However, thankfully, Ryne has been in remission since October 2016.
Firefighters first met Ryne in December 2016 when they delivered Christmas gifts to him and his family as part of Operation North Pole – a volunteer-based organization that works with Chicago hospitals to provide a day of fun and fantasy for families who have children battling life-threatening illnesses. The firefighters had so much fun playing air hockey with Ryne and his brothers that they went back for a rematch a few days later. They also invited the family to the fire house for dinner and a tour.
“It was a very humbling and inspiring experience, said Firefighter Tom Jonkman. “The look on their faces as we pulled up to the house with lights and sirens blazing is something I will never forget.”
Fire Up A Cure features fun activities for the whole family. This year’s activities include face painting, Chicago sports team mascots, STAR WARS Midwest Garrison Group, music, corn hole, inflatable slides and bouncy houses, arts and crafts, raffles, split the pot, reptile show, lemonade stand, bake sale, and much more.