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  • Last modified 264 days ago (Jan. 31, 2018)

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Firemen helping their own

Staff writer

It’s not easy to let others help you when you’re used to being the one people call on for help, but that’s the situation where Hillsboro resident Randy Welch finds himself.

The 30-year truck driver and 8-year Hillsboro Fire Department veteran suffered a stroke last month while making a delivery in Woodburn, Oregon, and will never drive a truck again because of CDL requirements. Meanwhile, he waits for approval of his disability application to come through.

Welch said he’s lucky he got prompt medical attention so he could be given a drug that lessens the effects of the stroke. Welch has short-term memory loss, but his long-term memory remains intact.

Still, numbness and tingling in his right hand and fingers is permanent, as is his short-term memory loss.

“I’ll never get that back according to the cardiologist,” Welch said.

That’s why his CDL license is revoked.

“The guidelines with a CDL, they won’t let me be recertified for at least a year, and they don’t want me to ever get recertified,” Welch said. “Basically the stroke has taken my job away from me.”

The most important thing to Welch and his wife is allowing their son to continue his own plans.

“My son, Austin, is going to fire science school and wants to go to Wichita to be a career firefighter,” Welch said. “That’s the most important thing to us is to let him live his dream.”

Because his wife still works, the family does not qualify for any form of government assistance.

It typically takes more than a year for disability to be approved.

“The chances of me getting disability this year is between slim and none,” Welch said.

Hillsboro firefighters are on a mission to help Welch in his hour of need.

The volunteer fire department is raising money to defray the costs of his medical care and keep the family afloat while Welch awaits disability payments.

“To honor his contributions and to help him during this difficult time, the men of the fire department are putting together a free will donation chili feed,” chief Ben Steketee said.

The chili feed will be from noon to 5 p.m., or when the chili runs out, Feb. 10 at Hillsboro City Hall.

Steketee said the department will accept cash donations through March 1.

Checks made out out to HFD Benefit Fund can be mailed to Hillsboro Fire Department, 118 E. Grand St., Hillsboro KS, 67063.

More information on the fundraiser is available from the fire department at (620) 947-3556.

Last modified Jan. 31, 2018

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