By Heather Villa
Published Wednesday, May 9, 2012
Long before Rex Green cruised the streets of West Richland, Wash., in a fire truck, he peddled his bicycle along the streets of the city’s Bird Hill neighborhood. He remembers when a stretch of Bombing Range Road, a main corridor through West Richland, was unpaved. The main firehouse of District 4 is located on a portion of this once-unpaved road, in close proximity to Green’s childhood home.
Today Green is a volunteer firefighter for Benton County Fire District 4. He has been a volunteer firefighter for half of his life, responding to nearly 200 emergency calls within the district’s 52 square miles last year alone.
Green first volunteered as a firefighter for Benton County Fire District 1 in Kennewick in 1991, before he joined Benton County Fire District 4 in West Richland in 1996. Green moved to Eastern Washington when he was 3 years old, and today, he and his wife Amie are raising two children in the community they love.
The Support of a Community
Green was recently diagnosed with sarcoma, a rare type of cancer, and is currently under the care of a specialist in Seattle. Over the course of a five-week period, Rex and Amie made the 200-mile trek six times from their home to the University of Washington Medical Center for appointments and chemotherapy treatments.
The medical, travel and lodging expenses added up quickly. Fortunately, the community to which Green and his family have given so much has now stepped up to rally around them.
Joshua Jordan, a full-time paramedic at District 4, suggested the idea of a poker tournament to raise funds to support Green. Before Jordan worked for District 4, he attended a poker tournament that raised funds to purchase a thermal imaging camera. Others at District 4 as well as community members unanimously agreed that a similar event would be a fun way to help Green. “I am continually amazed by the support of this area, and the surrounding communities in support of our local residents in their time of need,” said District 4 Fire Chief William Whealan.
The Main Event
On March 31, approximately 35 people—some who Green knew well and some of whom Green had never met—gathered at the Sanberg Event Center and Gardens in West Richland to play poker to raise money for Green’s medical expenses. Darrell Toombs, the manager of the Yoke’s grocery store in West Richland, was the tournament coordinator.
A few individuals who attended didn’t play poker, but donated money to the cause. Various fire chiefs throughout the community also donated money to the effort.
Another fun part of the event: Those in attendance had the opportunity to bid on silent auction items, such as two hand-made quilts, a Fruit of the Vine tour, a Columbia Pig Sticker guided sturgeon trip, a Scentsy basket, beverages donated by the Sandberg Event Center & Gardens, and a full car service from Motoring Service.
Green’s smile grew as he watched bets get placed and listened as laughter filled the room. Green credits his dad, Dan Green, with setting an example of how to smile through tough situations. Treena Russell, a volunteer fire fighter at District 4, notes that, “Despite what Rex is going through, he still smiles.”
When Green walked to the front of the room, the tournament players took a break and listened to his words of gratitude: “I appreciate you all. Thank you for helping me out.” Green received applause, whoops and hollers.
The poker event was a huge success and raised approximately $2,500 to help with Green’s medical expenses.
Between chemotherapy treatments and doctor appointments, Green tries to attend weekly drills at District 4, and also works as the head custodian for the Pasco School District. Green says that he understands his limits but is able to still contribute. Continuing to do what he loves helps his day-to-day living—and helps him feel normal. Those around him appreciate his dedication. “Rex is a true hero in my eyes because even during his struggles with cancer, he still tries to attend his firefighter training when possible,” Chief Whealan shared. “Attending firefighter training while having a full-time job and a family life is very difficult.”
Green will likely need to have surgery and continued chemotherapy treatments. But he knows that he can expect continued kindness and admiration from his family, the community and District 4. The generosity doesn’t stop. District 4 is already planning a barbeque fundraiser for the next event to help support Green and his family.
The businesses that helped make the poker tournament possible include Yoke’s of West Richland, Waddell & Reed, Motoring Services, West Richland Rental and Sandberg Event Center & Gardens. And of course, an enormous thank you is extended to District 4 for organizing the event. Additionally, the event wouldn’t have been possible without the caring support of those who contributed to the event.
Donations to help the Green family with medical expenses can be made to a non-profit account: FBO REX GREEN GESA
Account # 587177 (GESA Credit Union, 51 Gage Blvd, Richland, WA 99352, 1-888-946-4372)
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