If you have needed to call the Blair Volunteer Fire Department over the years, chances are Mark Wulf responded to your needs.
Now, it is Wulf who needs support after being diagnosed with a rare form of cancer — small cell neuroendocrine carcinoma of his colon. It has metastasized to his liver and lower spine.
"It's humbling. I never knew there was this many people that care, never thought I affected that many people's lives," Wulf said of the support.
Wulf is a lifelong resident of Blair. He has been on the fire department for 29 years and works as a crane operator for Gethmann at Cargill in Blair.
His friend, Rachel Butterbaugh, said they are praying for a miracle because of the rarity of the cancer.
"It's aggressive and hard to treat," she said.
Butterbaugh and others are putting together a fundraising barbecue drive through from 2 to 7 p.m. May 16 at Hillside Christian Church, 1133 N. 28th St.
"We will have a drive through pulled pork dinner where we usher cars into the parking lot, probably in two lines, and have two tables of volunteers making the meals in to-go containers, then runners who will bring the meals to the car and take the donation," Butterbaugh said. "Hopefully, we'll have a spot where Mark and his family can sit and say hello and wave to everyone coming through."
Wulf's boss at Gethmann is donating all of the funds for the food and supplies for the fundraiser so 100 percent of the donations will be going to Wulf and his family, Butterbaugh said.
Drivers surprised Wulf and his family May 2 during Blair's Cruise Night. They started the night driving past his house, then Wulf joined the parade in his '57 Chevrolet.
Butterbaugh said she and others set up an area by Ace Hardware to collect donations and raised $340 that night.
"The drive-by was really cool," Wulf said. "The number of people was really amazing."
Wulf joined the fire department in 1991.
"My grandpa was on the Kennard fire department and when I was a little kid I thought it was cool they would ride on the back of the fire trucks," he said.
Blair Fire Chief Joe Leonard said it was Wulf who showed him the ropes.
“When I first got on the department, he was one of the guys that worked with me, so I had a lot to learn from him,” he said. “He’s so down to earth and will sit and talk to anyone. I’ve never seen him get upset and he works around things.”
Leonard said Wulf is always willing to help people out.
“He was very helpful in teaching us the ways of fire department service,” Leonard said.
Wulf said he has been having good days and bad like any chemo patient but is trying to keep a positive attitude. He said he misses work and plans to return when he has more strength.
"I like my job and miss it, and I miss the people," he said. "I like to stay busy, so sitting at home and having other people do things for me is tough."
Wulf said he's been spending time with family and finding support from many people.
"I just want to say thanks everyone," he said. "I'm usually the one who would stop what I'm doing to take care of someone else. I never imagined I would be the one being taken care of or imagined it being like this as far as a support group."