WOODSTOCK – A meat raffle this Saturday is the latest installment of an ongoing effort to support Mike Wurtz, a Woodstock firefighter and paramedic fighting cancer.
Wurtz, 47, was diagnosed with colon cancer about a year and a half ago. Since, his co-workers have rallied around him, picking up Wurtz's shifts, helping with everything from rides to yard work and organizing fundraising efforts like Saturday's.
"It's really been incredible," said Karen Bush, shift commander captain for Woodstock Fire/Rescue and Wurtz's appointed advocate. "From every facet of the department, I've been inundated with people that want to help."
Woodstock Fire/Rescue will hold the 2013 Inaugural Meat Raffle at 6 p.m. Saturday at Niko's Red Mill Tavern, 1040 Lake Ave., Woodstock, with proceeds from ticket sales going to support Wurtz and his family. Organizers will raffle turkeys, ham and pork loins, and a turkey fryer will be raffled off as a door prize.
Since his original diagnosis, Wurtz has been in and out of chemotherapy. Doctors removed half of his liver after the cancer spread. Within the last several months, the cancer has appeared in his abdominal cavity, prompting more chemo, Bush said.
Wurtz is still assisting in the office when he's able, but the local union has entered an agreement with the district to allow firefighters to donate their time working Wurtz's shifts.
They've also donated sick time and vacation time so that Wurtz can stay on the roster as long as possible, President Ryan Mains of the International Association of Fire Fighters Local 4813 said.
"This occupation is more of a family – we spend 24 hours at a time with each other," Mains said. "When somebody in your family is sick or needs help, family comes to help."