Highland Park Fire Department blood drive honors ill daughter of colleague and veteran

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Firefighters are used to helping others, but when the person in need is one of their own, it really hits home.

“Here at the fire service and any fire department, it’s family,” said Highland Park Deputy Fire Chief Dan Pease. “So we all pull together to help one another; that’s what we’re doing with Nate right now.”

Pease is talking about Nathan Abbott, a retired Marine and Purple Heart recipient who has been with the Highland Park Fire Department for six years. Abbott is a proud father of Jayden, 4, and 17-month-old Kylia. Kylia is in the fight of her life battling stage 4 neuroblastoma. She’s already had 13 blood transfusions, and the men and women of this community wanted to do something to support the family. A blood drive seemed a fitting way to honor the Abbotts.

“Being that it’s Memorial Day weekend, Nathan is a Purple Heart veteran, a U.S. marine, and we just thought it was fitting,” Pease said.

“Anything to do with children just tears us apart, and we’re always there for them, so we’ll do whatever we can and we’ll pull together,” Highwood Fire Chief Dale Solberg said.

Kylia has been in and out of the hospital for months now, and coming to her dad’s fire station was a much enjoyed outing. She was all smiles; hard to believe by mid-June Kylia will be back in the hospital for a rigorous, high-dose chemotherapy stem cell treatment to help save her life.

Her parents didn’t want to talk on camera, but they said the community support they have been receiving has meant so much.

Nate’s fellow firefighters are also picking up his shifts when they can. And in the background of all this that’s going on for the Abbott family, their third child is due in just a few weeks, right before Kylia goes back in for her next big treatment.

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