$4500 raised for Columbia firefighter undergoing radiation

Thursday, May 1, 2008 | 2:34 p.m. CDT; updated 2:44 p.m. CDT, Tuesday, July 22, 2008

COLUMBIA — A fundraiser for Columbia firefighter Aaron Tolson raised $4500 without counting change Wednesday for his cancer treatment. Tolson, 30, learned in February he has a malignant tumor directly above his heart.

Danny Spry Jr. of the Columbia Professional Firefighter’s Union Local 1055 said the union was originally planning a fundraiser for a different cause but decided to help Tolson instead.

“When it is one of your own, it really hits home,” Spry said. “We want to make sure he is living comfortably and he gets everything he needs taken care of medically and financially.”

The event was held at three Columbia Baskin Robbins during their annual 31-cent scoop night. Each year on April 30, Baskin Robbins donates $100,000 to the National Fallen Firefighters Foundation, and at participating stores around the country, local fire departments can hold fundraisers at the stores. No portion of the ice cream sales is donated to the individual charities.

Tolson is undergoing chemotherapy radiation and has been unable to work. Tolson has been with the Columbia Fire Department for five years and has worked part-time for seven years as an EMT for University Hospital Emergency Services.

Spry said Tolson is a special person. “He is the kind of person who has got something about him that kind of pulls everybody to him,” Spry said.

Columbia Firefighter Chris Acton said he and Tolson hit it off right away after Tolson was hired. They share an interest in motorcycles and working out, and though they worked at different stations, the two have become close friends.

“I enjoy embarrassing Aaron,” Acton said. “ He is so shy, he’s easy to get.”

Acton and the other firefighters said they all admire how Tolson has handled the situation.

“How would I act if the doctor said, ‘You have a malignant tumor in your chest?’” Acton said. “I couldn’t handle it like him. He has stayed very positive about all of this.”

“We all believe he can beat it,” Spry said.

Donations to the Aaron Tolson Cancer Fund can be made at any First National Bank location in Columbia.

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