Retired firefighters rally around fellow first responder battling cancer

Local News

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (KRQE) – Helping one of their own, a group of New Mexico firefighters came together to support a retired first responder battling a serious illness.

Brick by brick, a group of retired Albuquerque firefighters was back in action Monday, all to help one of their brothers in need. “I’ve fallen so they picked me up on their shoulders, and now they’re carrying me. So it’s nice, it’s nice,” says Phillip Candelaria.

About 30 volunteers spent the day sprucing up Phillip Candelaria’s home, “We’re going to build a retaining wall, we’re going to be doing landscaping, rock borders. We’re going to build a shed on the patch where we’re standing as well,” says Morris Gutierrez.

Candelaria is battling stage four cancer. “He’s one of us, and the need is there more so to help him because he can’t do it himself anymore,” Gutierrez says.

Inside, Candelaria and his wife prepared a meal for the volunteers. “It feels good to see them all. I feel sad I can’t be there to help them, but I appreciate it,” Candelaria says.

Candelaria says he understands his body’s limits, and he’s thankful to be surrounded by a community that’s quick to serve. “My lifespan is questionable,” Candelaria says. “I just want to thank them from the bottom of my heart.”

The Association of Retired Firefighters organized the work. They also plan to make improvements to the inside of Candelaria’s home.

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