Since the day he was diagnosed with cancer, a Cheektowaga teen said he was driven to beat the disease so he could reach his goal of becoming a volunteer firefighter. On Monday night, that dream became a reality.
Eighteen-year-old Tim Richardson was sworn into the U-Crest Fire Department by his father, Matthew, and is now officially a volunteer firefighter. He'll serve alongside both his father and sister who are active members of the department.
His mother, Deana, posted the following statement on the "Timmy's Battle" Facebook page on Monday:
"Well it's been a little while since we posted anything. Timmy is doing great. He turned 18 years old at the end of September. He got a job at the Cheektowaga ice rink part time. Timmy is doing great at school. He still has a girlfriend. The biggest news is tonight he joined the Ucrest fire Hall with his Dad and sister. So one dream of his has come true he is a official Volunteer fire fighter. His Dad got the honor of making him official. Please keep praying for him they are so much appreciated. Thank's for everyone's support these past 19 months."
Tim was diagnosed with T-cell leukemia in February 2018 and a bone marrow transplant saved his life.
Right after his diagnosis, he asked for fellow firefighters to send him t-shirts to help him get through the cancer battle, and he lost count after he received 4,000.
"It kind got me up every day and pushed me to keep going every day. Every single day," said Tim.
The support didn't stop there. He received countless visits from firefighters from Cheektowaga, Buffalo and beyond, as well as inspiring messages of support from Bills Hall of Fame quarterback Jim Kelly and other cancer survivors. A fire truck parade welcomed Tim home from the hospital after his initial treatment. He received a bedroom makeover by Special Spaces and he had his wish granted by the Make-A-Wish Foundation of WNY to be an honorary New York City Firefighter for a day.
"I got to hang out with those guys, take a couple calls with them. Just be me. Out of the hospital. I just had a great time," said Tim.
In August, Tim rang the victory bell at Roswell Park Comprehensive Cancer Center to symbolize the end of his treatment. His dad said at the time that he couldn't wait for his son, who was a Explorer firefighter-in-training at the beginning of his cancer journey, and who become a junior firefighter during his battle, to finally be sworn in as an official volunteer firefighter.
"It's gonna be great to have him sit next to me in a jumpseat, and put a pack on and do our jobs. It's going to be great. I can't wait," said Tim's dad.
Tim believes the love and support he received as a cancer patient are things he can pass along to patients he treats as a first responder, and he'll be a better firefighter because of his cancer journey.
"I can say to them officially, 'I know what you're going through. You just gotta get through it. There's always a light at the end of the tunnel.'"