LA protest forces fundraiser for firefighters battling cancer to cancel

Wednesday, November 16, 2016
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Protest in the streets of downtown Los Angeles forced the Firefighter Cancer Support Network to cancel its 11th annual fundraiser.

PASADENA, Calif. (KABC) -- Thousands poured into downtown Los Angeles over the weekend, closing several streets as they protested President-elect Donald Trump.

But what many demonstrators may not known is that their protest forced the cancellation of a fundraiser for firefighters battling cancer.

The Firefighter Cancer Support Network was forced to pack-up and cancel its 11th anniversary dinner and fundraiser, which was set to be held at downtown's Westin Bonaventure Hotel on Saturday.

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Past events have helped to raise up to $250,000 in one evening. While organizers didn't blame the demonstrators, they said the cancellation hampered their efforts to help firefighters in need.

"I want to make it very clear that we don't have any hostility or any anger about the protesters themselves. That's their right and we respect that. It's just unfortunate for us it happened at the same time our event occurred," Deputy Chief Bryan Frieders with the Pasadena Fire Department and president of the Firefighter Cancer Support Network said.

The non-profit organization helps firefighters and their families in the event of a cancer diagnosis, which happens more often than most would think.

"You know the things we're exposed to and the toxins we encounter on a regular basis," Frieders explained. "One in three firefighters gets diagnosed with cancer at some point in their careers."

The organization is now out $55,000 for the venue and food cost. It hoped to reschedule the event for early in 2017.

The firefighters said they had a great relationship with the hotel and hoped to work something out for a bigger and better event.

"I felt challenged. I really feel that the group is going to raise even more awareness and even more funding now," Chief Bertral Washington with the Pasadena Fire Department said.

ABC7 reached out to the Westin Bonaventure Hotel for comment, but did not hear back.

If you'd like more information about the Firefighter Cancer Support Network, or would like to attend the fundraiser once they set a new date, click here.