Michigan man plans to walk 140 miles to raise money and awareness for firefighters battling cancer

Michigan man plans to walk 140 miles to raise money and awareness for firefighters battling cancer
Posted at 9:23 AM, Aug 28, 2022
and last updated 2022-08-28 09:23:03-04

LANSING, Mich. — Everyday firefighters put themselves in danger, risking their lives to save others.

Now, a Michigan man is putting boots on the ground and planning to walk across the state to bring awareness to a deadly disease impacting this group of first responders.

"Now its killing a lot of us. Its our number one killer. Its killing our firefighters. Now, less and less people are wanting to do the job. They are struggling to pay bills. They are struggling to pay for medical equipment," said Josh Warne of Neighbors United.

Cancer claimed the lives of 66% of the career firefighter line-of-duty deaths from 2002 to 2019.

That's according to data from the International Association of Fire Fighters.

Joseph Warne has been part of the Macomb Township Fire Department for about 13 years and started up Neighbors United after his friends helped him through a family crisis.

The organization helps families in need, including firefighters battling cancer and their families.

Eric Brown is captain of the Ovid-Middlebury Fire Department.

His dad, James Brown, known affectionately as Jim, was diagnosed with cancer in May after serving as a firefighter for several decades.

"They called it lung cancer, but the cancer was in his lungs, his spinal cord, his ribs, his spleen, his liver, his pelvis and his kidneys," said Brown.

Since 2019, Joe Warne has been putting on his full fire gear, which weighs about 60 pounds, and walking 140 miles from Macomb Township to Cascade Township to raise money and awareness for people like Jim Brown and their families.

Warne says he's learned a lot about himself and the people he's helping since he started this walk.

"By the end of day one, I had really bad blisters on my feet and by the end of day four I had lost all the skin on the bottom of my feet. I almost didn't make it but just thinking about the families we were helping kept me going," said Warne.

This year, Warne aims to help 24 firefighters and their families by raising over $100,000.

If you'd like to learn about the walk or donate, we have a link to Neighbors United here.

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