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Firefighters return from cancer mission

July 15, 2008 12:00:00 AM PDT
A group of L.A. firefighters comes home following an amazing trek. They made a 9,800-mile round trip across the country to raise awareness for firefighter-related cancers.These men and women are no strangers to saving lives. Tuesday they were hailed as heroes. Not for climbing into burning buildings ... but for taking a 9,000-mile road trip.

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The group of firefighters and supporters left aboard a fire engine back on June 13, but Tuesday they were back in Hollywood being praised by their colleagues and city leaders.

The Code 3 group traveled to several dozen fire stations across the country, including New York City, where they were joined by firefighters that responded to Ground Zero during the attacks of 9-11.

At a news conference Tuesday morning, participants described how memorial services were held for firefighters that had died of fire-related cancers.

Organizers said the goal of the journey was to honor and remember the sacrifices of fallen firefighters who paved the way for better procedures and safety equipment used by firefighters today.

"The reality is, you are not only a pillar for us in the fire service, but all Americans who suffer from this disease," said L.A. Fire Dept. Battalion Chief Christopher Kawai. "We get inspiration from someone like you. It lifts all our spirits. It lifts families, loved ones and individuals. And from the bottom of my heart, I want to thank you again."

"Throughout our journey, we encountered many citizens who have also been diagnosed with cancer, and so our mission is about awareness -- sure, about firefighters -- but also to find a cure for all cancer, not just firefighter-related cancers," said Lorenzo Abundiz, retired firefighter and cancer survivor.

Abundiz is a retired firefighter who is a survivor of three types of cancer. Lorenzo Abundiz founded Code 3 for a Cure, and says this experience was one of the most rewarding experiences of his life.

 

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