I’ll keep this brief. I stumbled across a gofundme page late Wednesday set up for longtime Bryan County firefighter Otis Willis, who is suffering from cancer. He also worked with the Liberty County Fire Service and, 20 years ago, Willis was with the Lake George Fire Department and, for a brief time, tried to get a volunteer department going in Fleming.
The page was put together by Otis’ daughter, Terra Williams, whom I’ve never met. But I know her dad, Otis, and I believe he’s, well, everything his daughter says he is. Here’s what Terra wrote about her father:
"My dad has given his heart and soul to creating a better Bryan County. He loves his community and most of all loves sharing his knowledge and passion with others. During his many years in fire service doing everything from chief to teaching young newcomers and his CPR/first aid classes to the community, he really has made a huge impact on many of our lives. He has one of the biggest and kindest hearts you will ever have the pleasure of experiencing.
"Daddy was diagnosed with esophageal cancer only about 2 months ago. Because of the location things have progressed pretty far along before they were found. You can imagine things have moved extremely fast since. He had a feeding tube placed with complications and already spent a week in the hospital last month. This really took a toll on his body. He then went into an aggressive weekly chemo and daily radiation treatment. As you can imagine the treatments have been extremely rough for him as well. Each week seems to get worse than the one before. Just a little less than three weeks shy of his 69th birthday he could really use your prayers and support to continue to fight through everything he is going through.
"You can imagine the toll this takes on my wonderful mom mentally and physically as well. She is caring for him 24 hours a day, driving him to all appointments, trying to find foods he can eat, keeping his crazy doctor schedule together and barely having a moment to sleep, eat or care for herself.
"Any help or support you can give is very much appreciated. I know we always ask how we can help but you can imagine how overwhelming this is for all of us and how hard it is to even figure out how others can help. Just seeing the love and support gives us all strength to keep pushing on to get through this.
"The last thing I want my parents to worry about are expenses, bills, medication costs and all that continues to come no matter what happens in life.
"My dad, being such a giver and not so great of a receiver, knows nothing about this request as of now. I know once he sees the pouring in of love and support from his beloved community, he will be overwhelmed with pride and love for all of you.
"Thank you for taking the time to read this and please leave a message for my dad so he can see all the lives he has touched and give him the strength he so badly needs right now.
Love you all, Terra"