CHICAGO (CBS) – In spite of Wednesday’s tragedy, about 40 Chicago firefighters delivered holiday cheer to children at Advocate Illinois Masonic Medical Center Thursday morning. CBS 2’s Susanna Song reports.
Firefighters with the 5th Battalion, 1st District, Engine Companies 55 and 78, Truck 44 and Tower Ladder 21 gave hundreds of presents to the children.
But underneath their smiles were sorrows for their fellow firefighters who lost their lives. Many of them expressed they had heavy hearts.
“You have to reach deep and try to change gears because we have to spread joy,” said Lt. Charlie Bliss of Engine 55.
Another firefighter, Lt. Ted Kramer, said, “That would be the next most important thing that we can do, help support them and their families, just as all of Chicago supports us in our time of need right now with our loss.”
The loss hits close to home for Kramer. He said his friends were injured in the South Shore roof collapse and he knew the two firefighters who died: Corey Ankum and Edward Stringer.
“I was actually relieved by the company that went to that fire about five minutes before it [the call] came in, and I know everyone at the scene,” Kramer said. “I know the two individuals that had lost their lives. And it’s just a great loss, it really is. So, it hurts all of us.”
But they rose up to the occasion. The firefighters showed resilience.
“It’s a great feeling to be able to give to the kids,” said Firefighter Mike Ahern.
The children and their parents were touched.
The firefighters stopped by the emergency department and the pediatric unit. They also went to Children’s Memorial Hospital and Comer Children’s Hospital.
The hundreds of gifts delivered cost about $14,000, which is money raised all year through fundraisers.