Lights, ladders, strength: Local fire departments brighten spirits of families battling cancer

Chicago News

Dozens of Illinois firefighters decorate homes for holidays

CHICAGO — A cancer diagnosis is enough to darken anyone’s spirit but, thanks to some special volunteers, a number of Chicago area families may have a brighter outlook this holiday season. 

A child’s struggle with cancer could have meant an overburdened family wouldn’t have decorations this holiday season. But that’s when a group of firefighters and first responders came to the rescue.  

At Rachel Clark and Eric Anderson’s home in Chicago’s Beverly neighborhood, there were no Christmas lights Friday afternoon.

 “It’s been hard to do much more than put one foot in front of the other,” Clark said. 

The couple has six children and this has been an exceptionally challenging year.  

Their 4-year-old daughter Georgianna “Georgie”  was diagnosed with a rare form of ovarian cancer. 

 “It’s been a heavy load with six kids,” Anderson said. “We have a lot to do every day.”

So between, work, parenting, chemo, and blood draws, holiday decorations were an afterthought this year.

 “The sense of fatigue, I would say, is just so profound,” Clark said.

Enter the Lights and Ladders Brigade.

More than 60 area firefighters rolled up in trucks and spent the next hour decorating the home for free. They gave help and in many ways also gave hope to this household and made the burden a little lighter. 

The group left the home shining and the family beaming.

This was one of six homes the lights and ladders brigade decorated on the South Side of Chicago and in some of the south suburbs Friday.  

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The Lights and Ladders Brigade is a volunteer group and all of the decorations come from donations. It is a partnership between the charities Finley Forever Foundation, Christmas Without Cancer and The Tom Hopkins Foundation – all with the common goal to light up the lives of people battling cancer during this holiday season.

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