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Hundreds join Hubbard man’s war on cancer

BROOKFIELD — Neither snow flurries nor frigid winds prevented more than 450 people from helping a firefighter battling cancer.

They gathered Saturday at the Brookfield Township Fire Department Banquet Hall to raise funds for Hubbard native and Eagle Joint Fire District firefighter Matthew Halicki, who has been diagnosed with colorectal cancer.

“All these people are wonderful,” Halicki said about the room full of well-wishers. “A lot of my firefighter buddies are here, a lot of family, and my niece and nephew are up from Kentucky.

“The support has been amazing. It’s great to have wonderful people in my life, that’s for sure.”

He is receiving treatment at the Cleveland Clinic. Remission could be as long as two years away, according to Halicki’s doctors, and the medical bills are mounting.

“It’s sad it’s come to this situation,” said Kelly Plummer, who grew up with Halicki in Hubbard and has known him for 40 years.

“He’s a very outgoing man. He loves hunting, fishing, camping, and we wanted to do something for him as he would do anything for anyone,” Plummer said.

Halicki’s daughter, Jessica Sullivan, and Nikki Metzger, Halicki’s daughter-in-law, organized the banquet staffed by volunteers. Donors provided 97 gift baskets and 17 gift cards and gift certificates for a raffle. All proceeds are earmarked for Halicki’s medical bills.

“With my dad being such a big part of the community, everyone really came together,” Sullivan said.

The gift baskets featured everything from store- bought candies, tools and children’s toys, to homemade cakes and cookies.

“It’s been a great turnout, and he more than deserves it, so I’m really, really glad and really thankful for everyone coming together for him. We really appreciate it,” Sullivan said.

Nationally, colorectal cancer is the third leading cause of death in men, according to the American Cancer Society, and can affect as many as 1 in 23 men. Colorectal cancer is expected to kill more than 54,000 people in 2024.

Halicki was diagnosed early in 2023, according to the Hubbard Fire Department’s social media page. He underwent 28 rounds of radiation and chemotherapy, and eight rounds of intravenous chemo. Surgery in January has taken him out of work for eight weeks.

Part of the funds will pay for the operation and medical supplies.

Halicki, wearing a shirt that read “Cancer Touched My Butt and I Kicked Its Ass,” looked trim and strong despite his diagnosis.

Medical supplies alone can run as much as $1,800 per month, Halicki said. Donations also will defray travel expenses and insurance co-payments.

When asked about his treatment, Halicki smiled.

“I’ve met people who’ve come from New York and Canada” to get treatment at the Cleveland Clinic. “It’s crazy.”

He also has met a number of people struggling with the same diagnosis.

“I’ve met a lot of people who have the same cancer I have, and they are in wheelchairs,” Halicki said. “And they are like, ‘How are you doing?’ and I say, ‘I just keep moving.'”

The 21-year Eagle Joint Fire District veteran seems undaunted.

“As soon as I get the green light, I’m going back to work,” he said. “That’s definitely what I want to do.”

Donations can be made through https://www.facebook.com/jessica.halicki; Venmo @justinhalicki; or by check to Matthew Halicki or Patricia Halicki, Eagle Joint Fire District, 33 W. Liberty St. Hubbard, OH 44425.

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