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Community organizes drive for Chagrin Valley fire marshal in need of bone marrow donor

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Posted at 5:52 PM, Dec 29, 2021
and last updated 2021-12-29 18:42:33-05

CHAGRIN FALLS, Ohio — After years of helping others and serving our country, an area fire marshal looks for a helping hand from the community as he battles cancer.

On Sunday, Jan. 2, the Chagrin Valley Fire Department will host a donor drive from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. in hopes that a potential donor for 50-year-old fire marshal Jim Finley joins the national marrow donor “Be The Match Registry.”

“Jim is a dear friend of mine,” Chagrin Valley Fire Chief Frank Zugan said. “He’s part of this family, and it couldn’t make me any happier than to find a match for Jim so he can live a long and healthy life.”

News 5 first introduced you to Finley back in September of 2020, when he raised money to restore a boat to teach other veterans how to sail.

Finley served as a Navy corpsman in Iraq with the 3rd Battalion, 25th Marines and had his tour cut short after he survived a suicide bomber in 2005.

Now, all these years later, this 50-year-old’s health has a new enemy after his doctors diagnosed him this past April with acute lymphoblastic leukemia.

“I feel great right now; nothing feels wrong with me but blood tests say different,” he explained. “I still consider myself pretty young at 50. I love working here and I love my family and would like to be around them for a long time. Something popped up in my blood work and they said your best option is finding a donor, destroying your bone marrow and starting from scratch.”

According to "Be The Match," only about 30% of patients find a match within their family.

“I’m waiting for my siblings since they both already were tested and are waiting for their results,” Finley explained.

Back in April, News 5 covered a GoFundMe for Finley when he was first diagnosed. It raised more than $87,000.

The drive on Sunday is eligible for anyone between the ages of 18 and 40 and will take place at the fire department, located at 21 W. Washington St. in Chagrin Falls.

“Hopefully, everything from New Years will be cleared out, give you a swab, and if you can’t help me it will help someone else,” Finley said.

If you are unable to make it to the donor drive, or are not local, organizers told News 5 you can simply scan the QR code on the flyer below and a swab kit will be mailed to your house with directions.

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To learn more about the drive, click here.