As fellow firefighters flipped pancakes and grilled sausages, Ronald Ellis was overwhelmed by the support for his battle with cancer.
Local emergency personnel held a breakfast fundraiser at the Clinton Fire Department for Ellis on Saturday. In April, he was diagnosed with glioblastoma, an aggressive form of cancer formed in the brain.
“We’re so humbled to just see so many people pulling for us and trying to help our cause,” he said early Saturday morning. “I would have never thought I would see myself in this position after 20 years of me helping with fundraisers.”
Ellis served Sampson County for many years as a firefighter and Emergency Medical Technician. The dive team lieutenant and board member for Roseboro Rescue and EMS Inc. also serves on the Herring and Clinton fire departments. He became a little emotional as he watched all the people gather inside the building.
“It’s usually me on the other side of the fence and it was always a great feeling to do that for other people,” Ellis said. “I would have never thought that I would see myself on this side of the fence.
“I just took it in stride and I’ll get through this with my family,” he said. “We’ll make the best of it.”
Ellis is going through several weeks of radiation and chemotherapy treatments with medicine. After taking a vacation in July, he will begin his clinical trial at Duke University Hospital.
Kevin Hall, chief of Roseboro Rescue and EMS Inc., was pleased with the turnout during the fundraiser. As of Saturday morning, more than 1,300 tickets were sold in addition to monetary donations.
“Everyone has been really supportive of Ronald with this fundraiser,” Hall said. “We very much appreciate that. This is going to be a success and a good day for Ronald. I appreciate the community for what they’ve done.”
Ronald’s brother Kevin Ellis said it was a blessing to have local emergency groups come together to help.
“He told them that they didn’t have to do it, but these departments are like family to each other,” he said. “He’s been amazed and overwhelmed with all the love shown.”
Kevin and his wife Erin live in a house next to Ronald’s family. Other family members live near him too.
“We’re close and we can look after him,” he said. “He’s very independent, so he doesn’t ask for a whole lot.”
For his brother, Kevin hopes it’s just the beginning of a healing process toward winning the battle.
“He has a good attitude,” Kevin said.
Brandon Ellis, his son, said it was an amazing to see all of the assistance from the public and on social media platforms.
“I’ve never seen so many people come together for a single cause, especially for just one person,” Brandon said. “It’s a great town to be in. This is a very strong community.”
Although his father is battling cancer, Brandon said he still continues to live life to the fullest.
“Everytime you look at him he has a smile on his face,” Brandon said. “That helps with things too.”
Theresa Ellis, Ronald’s wife, was overwhelmed with the support as well.
“We felt all the love and we can’t believe this is happening,” Theresa said. “It’s been great.”
Wendy Colantuono, firefighter and EMT with Vann Crossroads Fire Department, expressed how she enjoyed seeing all the support for a fellow firefighter.
“Every dollar that we can get is a dollar he does not have to worry about,” Colantuono said.
Support was not just from family and emergency personnel, but from other members of the community as well. One of them was Arianna Corbett, 2017 Teen Miss Sampson County. Donations are being sent online at www.gofundme.com/rallyforronald.
A Facebook page was also made with additional details at www.facebook.com/Rally4Ronald. It includes a July 28 drawing for a giveaway package. Some of the items include a tailgate tent, Grizzly Cooler and two wooden folding chairs. For more information, contact Brandon at 910-249-2175.
“I can’t thank people enough,” Ellis said while showing appreciation to supporters. “We’re not alone in this battle. I can tell you that.”