RIO RANCHO, N.M. (KRQE) - A local community is rallying behind two first responders whose lives have been changed forever after being diagnosed with potentially terminal medical conditions.
One firefighter is from Rio Rancho and the other is from Albuquerque.
"I wish every day I could just be worried about my kids' science fair projects and planning their birthday parties and normal stuff, but this is a whole other level for me," said Sarah McIntosh-Rettinger, wife of David Rettinger.
Sarah says their lives were changed forever on Christmas Eve and then again on Christmas Day after David was rushed to the hospital.
"He was having severe stomach pain. They did a CT scan and found a mass on his pancreas," said David.
Doctors discovered it was a neuroendocrine tumor on his pancreas, stage 4 cancer.
For the past three months, David has been in and out of hospitals in New Mexico and Denver.
David has been going through a number of tests and just recently started oral chemotherapy.
"We are just giving it a shot and hoping for the best. At least we feel that there is a treatment plan and not necessarily just a dead end," said Sarah.
In Rio Rancho, firefighter Danny Arana is fighting a different battle. Arana is in need of a heart transplant.
The nearest facility equipped to handle his condition is in Salt Lake City, Utah.
For both families, the tab for transportation and lodging is adding up and the cost of some of the treatments are not covered by insurance.
"I wish I didn't need the money. Right now, we aren't in a place where we are looking at all the financial aspects," said Sarah.
That's where fellow first responder, KC Martin comes in.
"We help each other out you know. If firefighters need to get into a place that's dangerous, we clear the way for them. But if we ever get into a dangerous situation, they'd be the ones who saved us," said Martin.
Martin who works as a lieutenant with Rio Rancho Police Department also owns CrossFit Rio Rancho.
The gym recently opened a few weeks ago so Martin decided to combine its grand opening with a charity workout. All of the proceeds will go to the firefighters' medical treatments.
"One of the main things in founding CrossFit is the community idea. What better way to do that then to reach out and support the community that supports us," said Martin.
CrossFit Rio Rancho's Grand Opening and Charity WOD take place April 7 at 10 a.m.
To donate through the GoFundMe page, click here.
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