CAMBRIA COUNTY, Pa (WTAJ)– Multiple fire departments participated in a Christmas parade in Gallitzin Saturday to bring happiness to one firefighter’s battle cancer.
Captain Christopher Cox has been serving as a firefighter for almost three decades. In the past few days, he’s been living with his parents after being released from hospice. Cox has been battling renal cell carcinoma, which is a type of kidney cancer.
Chief of the Gallitzin Fire Company Jim Nagle said that the team wanted to make sure that Cox was happy during his last few days.
“Right now, we’re just trying to make him happy and anything we can do to do that,” Nagle said. “That’s what we’re doing.”
Nagle said that over 75 departments drove their vehicles through the streets of Gallitzin to make sure that happiness was fulfilled. Nagle said that he was impressed by the turnout, given that it was only a week worth of planning.
“I think he was overwhelmed. The support that was shown to him,” Nagle said.
Safety Officer for the Gallitzin Fire Company Robert Nagle said he’s always enjoyed working with Cox. He described how much Cox went above and beyond to learn the business of firefighting, which made the department stronger.
“I think it means a lot to him because for this many people to show up throughout the county, and the neighboring departments and neighboring counties,” Robert said. “It meant a lot to our department that he’s supported, that we’ve supported him in this endeavor.”
Cox, throughout his career, has given back in multiple ways to the community. He was a state instructor, where he taught the next generation of firefighters all things firefighting. Then, he was a significant contributor to the Christmas events that Gallitzin Fire Company puts on, including the toy distribution.
“He’s made an impact on a lot of fire departments, and that’s why they came out to show their respect and say hello to him,” Nagle said.
Many firefighters say that an unbreakable alliance comes with this job. Assistant Fire Chief of Johnstown and official for the Cambria County Firefighters Association, Jim McCann, said that the number of people there is a testament to that statement. He said that there were departments there that weren’t even members of the association. Still, it doesn’t matter when supporting a fellow firefighter.
“There’s always been a tight-knit community within the fire service,” McCann said. “Today is a good example of what that means and how it brings everyone together.”