Ind. fire dept. rallies around firefighter-EMT with Stage 3 cancer
Firefighter-EMT Vicki Kalmar was diagnosed with a fast-progressing form of Stage 3 cervical cancer in May and is currently undergoing her first rounds of treatment
By Anna Ortiz
SOUTH HAVEN, Ind. — The firefighters of South Haven Fire Department are used to racing to the rescue when battling blazes. When one of their own is battling cancer, they assemble en masse to fight by her side.
Firefighter/EMT Vicki Kalmar has been with the South Haven Fire Department for more than eight years and is president of the department board. Kalmar was diagnosed with a fast-progressing form of Stage 3 cervical cancer in May and is currently undergoing her first rounds of treatment.
“I can tell you it's been pretty amazing,” Kalmar said. “When I told them all, everyone was super supportive. They all immediately asked me what I needed. A fire family is a lot different than a normal family. When there's a problem or a crisis, everyone goes into, 'What can we do' mode,” Kalmar said.
When Tina Nabhan, assistant chief of the South Haven Fire Department, thinks about Kalmar, Wonder Woman, comes to mind.
“She's super energetic, friendly and she's always going above and beyond for people,” Nabhan said. “She's a great friend, a great mom, a great EMT and a great firefighter. I can't say enough about her.”
The Fire Department is selling T-shirts Kalmar designed featuring a firefighting version of Rosie the Riveter to raise funds. The South Haven Fire Department's volunteers and staff are also hosting a benefit for Kalmar in November.
“She's in charge of most of the fundraising for the community,” Nabhan said. “That's one of the reasons we're working so hard. It's because she works so hard to fundraise for others, and now we have to do the same for her.”
The benefit, aptly called Her Fight is Our Fight, will be 4 to 11 p.m. Nov. 3 at Clancy's Public House in Portage. There will be a bike ride, music, food and raffles, with all benefits going towards helping Kalmar with finances as she's being treated. The cost to participate in the bike ride is $20 per single rider and $25 per couple. Nabhan said people who cannot attend the upcoming event can donate on the event Facebook page Her Fight is Our Fight.
“She's being tough right now,” Nabhan said. “If you didn't know her, just looking at her you wouldn't know she's sick. That's just the kind of person she is.”
Nabhan said the South Haven firefighters take turns taking Kalmar to her chemotherapy appointments and making meals for her.
“They've all been so awesome,” Kalmar said. “They've set up a schedule to give me rides, make me food, visit, they've taken me out to dinner. Anything you'd ask of friends and family to do, they're there.”
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