Fire department rallies around junior firefighter with cancer

LANCASTER, Pa. (WHTM) – Friday was a good day for 16-year-old Jacob Hawthorne.

The junior firefighter gave ABC 27 News a tour of the West Hempfield Fire and Rescue Station. The fire station is a place for comfort for Hawthorne as he battles a devastating cancer diagnosis.

“It’s sort of hard trying to be able to live every day and trying to get my energy,” Hawthorne said.

In May, the teenager was diagnosed with stage four Hodgkins lymphoma, which impacts his chest, liver and spleen.

“He goes through horrible treatments,” his mother Amy said. “He’ll get really sick, he’ll get mouth sores. He can’t eat, he can’t swallow.”

Despite hours of grueling chemotherapy every week, Hawthorne still goes through rigorous training with the department.

Fire Chief Jason Saunders said Hawthorne’s story is an inspiration to his fellow volunteer firefighters.

“Jacob eats, sleeps, breathes, and lives the fire department,” Saunders said. “I think it’s awesome that Jacob stops by here and comes down here for the fire calls.”

The fire department has used Hawthorne as a rallying cry by putting stickers on their trucks and designing shirts to remind them of his fight.

For Hawthorne’s 17th birthday, which happens in late September, members are asking for fire department memorabilia from all across the country to give to the teenager.

“In the fire world, I’m sure everybody hears about the brotherhood,” station secretary Tara Ney said. “I knew we had to do something to show the brotherhood of the fire company.”

Hawthorne’s mother said it’s overwhelming to see the support for her son.

“I can’t explain it in words,” she said. “I really can’t.”

The support keeps Hawthorne, who hopes to become a professional firefighter, strong during his fight.

“It really means a lot,” he said.

Fire and first responder memorabilia for Hawthorne can be sent to:

3rd Alarm Photography
P.O. Box 513
New Holland, PA 17557

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