HAMBURG, N.Y. — For as long as Laura Szulgit-Kazmierczak can remember, her son, 23-year-old Dominick Vergalito, has always given back to others.
"As far as wanting to help people, that's just who he is," Szulgit-Kazmierczak said.
With a giving soul like that, it didn't come as a surprise to anyone that Dominick joined the Lake Shore Volunteer Fire Company, where he is both a part-time firefighter and an EMT.
"He absolutely has a love of service and a love for his country. He just tries to help out where he can when he can. It is his dream to be a full-time firefighter. So when we got the news, this kind of crushed it right now," said Stacy Flick, Lake Shore EMS Captain.
On September 1, Dominick's co-workers got a call they will never forget.
"I had no idea it was his address," Flick said. "(It said) 23-year-old male, possible (cardiovascular arrest). It was Dominick. So AMR transported him to Buffalo General."
"They found out he had a stroke and he has a blood clot bleeding on his brain and it's been difficult ever since," Szulgit-Kazmierczak said.
The stroke is a side effect of the same disease that took away another one of his dreams.
About a year and a half ago, Dominick was just a few weeks away from graduating basic training for the military.
Instead, he was discharged because he was diagnosed with ulcerative colitis, an inflammatory bowel disease
Despite that, and not being able to feel the entire right side of his body now, he's still the type of guy who can't seem to wipe the smile from his face.
"He's our resident goofball," said Nicole Walter, a Lake Shore firefighter.
"Yes, he is definitely a happy, go-lucky goofball. He's always trying to smile and cheer everybody up. He's the type of person who would give you the shirt off of his back," Flick said.
"He not only gives you the shirt off his back, he'll give you his pants too," Szulgit-Kazmierczak said.
It's exactly why Dominick's colleagues are trying to be there for him now.
They've started a GoFundMe to help with his medical expenses.
"Twenty three-years-old and we don't even know if he'll be able to get back to work. We don't want him to worry about the money aspect and just focus on getting better," Walter said.
It's also so he can get back to the thing he does the best: going above and beyond for others.
"Yesterday, visiting with him, he already decided that he wants to grow his hair long during this whole experience so he can for the Locks of Love. He's already looking for what he can do to help somebody," Szulgit-Kazmierczak said.
After all, it's just who he is.
If you would like to donate to the GoFundMe for Dominick, click here.