THE SHORT CIRCUIT
In the Blink
of an Eye
ago I had the opportunity to be the master of ceremonies at a Bass University in Nashville, Tennessee. Little did I know it would be a life changing experience for me with a group of remen from Waukegan, Illinois and one special guy named Kevin Oldham. Firemen are a fraternity, a brotherhood and because of that they genuinely care for each other and the job they perform. They do not look at themselves as heroes but rather as men and women who have a job to do, are well trained, and risk their own well-being for the lives of others. It’s a duty and a responsibility they don’t take lightly. They are a close knit bunch who argue and ght, steal each other’s food at the station, play dirty tricks on each other but ultimately, at the end of the day they are in the life-saving business, are a brotherhood and work like a well-oiled machine. They believe in rank and protocol and they function as a unit both on the job and off. Much like the military they risk life and limb to protect others. When others are running out of a burning building they run in. When there is a car accident they are the rst responders. When it comes to charity they are leaders as well. In Nashville, I met two re ghters, who little did I know, would become brothers and angels for another brother I haven’t met. John Carrier and Chris Kohnke of the Waukegan Fire Department called me a few weeks after the event and told a story of a fel- low re ghter named Kevin Oldham who was ghting pancreatic cancer. The 33 year old husband and father of two young girls was
BY TERRY BROWN
given a short time to live and was a brother who also loved shing. He followed Gerald Swindle, Gary Klein and Shaw Grigsby’s careers and always wanted to speak with them but had never gotten the chance. John Carrier asked if I could make those calls possible and I told him I would try. My rst call was to Gerald. I spoke to his wife and told him Kevin’s story. She said she would pass that info on to “G” and he would make that call. Gerald had recently lost his brother to pan- creatic cancer and he later told me this was one of the toughest calls he ever made. He also told me after he made the call that is was also one of the most rewarding he had ever made. Shaw and Gary also called Kevin and they too were touched by his courage and love of shing. The story could have ended there but there is much more. In a weakened state from pain meds, chemo and radiation Kevin was not done. He got involved in two programs called Code 3 for a Cure and Mohawk Less Cancer, where re ghters travel to restations and talk about the hidden and seldom talked about risks they take with not wearing respirators and the proper cloth- ing when doing their jobs. Kevin was front and center in the dis- cussion and believes he got cancer as a result of his job. No sour grapes, no “Why me?” He was just wanting other young fathers not to have to go through what he has. His message is strong and straight to the point. Sel essness is Kevin Oldham’s middle name. He has never felt sorry for himself and even ghting for his life he is thinking of others.