Community rallies around Willoughby firefighter battling brain cancer

Posted at 7:04 AM, Aug 07, 2017
and last updated 2017-08-07 07:04:02-04

Northeast Ohio turned out in a big way to help one of its own.

A Willoughby firefighter, facing the biggest battle of his life, gets a helping hand all while keeping the memory of one fellow firefighter alive.

"He's just a good man. He's a good family man," said Beth Christie.

Christie was one of more than 1,400 people who packed into downtown Willoughby Saturday, to turn the tables on Seamus Culligan.

"To see that kind of support is unbelievable, you know," said Culligan.

Culligan is usually the one helping the community.

"Any neighbor, anybody who needs help he is there. It's just the kind of guy he is," said Cyndie Culligan.

Culligan is a Willoughby firefighter who is currently battling brain cancer.

"Cancer is way too prevalent in the fire service," said Mark Palumbo.

Palumbo, who is also a firefighter, helped organize this pub-crawl to raise money for Culligan and his family.

"Forget about hospitals, forget about treatment and really feel the love and support from all the people who are out here today for him," said Palumbo.

It is the same support Palumbo's brother, who was also a firefighter, received last year.

"It all started with Michael when he was first diagnosed with occupational firefighter cancer," said Palumbo.

From there, the Palumbo Foundation was born.

Its mission: raise awareness about the cancer risks all firefighters face.

"Three to one ratio of firemen are getting exposed to cancer and it sucks," said Seamus Culligan.

Michael lost his battle with brain cancer earlier this year. The community, continuing his legacy, by helping yet another first responder in need.

"From the bottom of my heart I cannot thank people enough for what they're doing for us," said Culligan.

Michael Palumbo's name may sound familiar. That's because News 5 followed him on his journey to change Ohio's law.

RELATED: Beachwood firefighter who fought for state benefits for fellow fire fighters laid to rest Saturday

The Michael Louis Palumbo Act now allows firefighters in the state to file a workers' compensation claim for presumptive occupational cancer.