A longtime firefighter in Huntley retired earlier this month after he was diagnosed with incurable ALS and his fellow firefighters are rallying to support him.
The Huntley Fire Protection District said in August that a veteran member of the district recently learned he had ALS disease and would be taking on “the greatest fight of his life.”
Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, also known as ALS, is a progressive neurodegenerative disease that affects nerve cells in the brain and spinal cord, according to the ALS Association. There is no cure for ALS.
“Like any family, our HFPD family has its milestones, its ups and downs, moments of joy, and moments of heartache,” the fire district said.
Lt. Bryan Szymczak retired earlier this month from the fire department.
The fire district honored Szymczak and his family during a ceremony on September 6.
Szymczak had 16 years of service working in Huntley.
He was a member of three specialty teams and worked in the training division. He was also a union officer for many years.
Szymczak was stationed at the fire district’s station 2 on Reed Road for most of his career where he “truly enjoyed his time on the North Side,” officials said.
The fire district said their members have been wearing ALS awareness t-shirts instead of their uniform button-down shirts every Thursday to show their support.
“It serves as a reminder to him and each other that our resolve is strong. His fight is our fight too,” the district said.
The Huntley Fire Fighters Union IAFF Local 4106 hosted a sale offering custom shirts and apparel earlier this month to help support Szymczak.