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Fairview Twp. community rallies around sick firefighter
With more than 30 years of firefighting experience, Fairview Township firefighter and retired Harrisburg Fire Chief Dan Soulier has dedicated much of his life to serving the community.
“Pretty much everything in his life is centered around the emergency services," Fairview Township Fire Chief Chris Weidenhammer said.
In December, Soulier, 62, was diagnosed with stage-four lung cancer. Now, the community he has served so faithfully is showing its support.
“He’s dedicated his life to his emergency services ... now it’s time for the community to come and say, 'Thank you for your service,'” Weidenhammer said.
The fire department is organizing two events to raise funds for Soulier's treatments.
On April 1 the fire department, at 340 Lewisberry Road, will host a chicken barbecue from 10 a.m. until the food is sold out. The chief estimated 500 chicken dinners will be sold.
A beef and beer dinner will be held at the department from 5 to 11 p.m. Tickets may be purchased for dinner here.
Soulier's supporters have created a GoFundMe page, which has raised nearly $6,500 in a little more than three weeks.
The goal for the GoFundMe was to reach $2,500.
“Everyone wants to help. They’re not really sure how to help — so this is really the best way to do it,” Weidenhammer said.
Support: The chief said whenever someone in the firefighting community is "down and out," the crew pulls together to help.
“The guys just want to do something, and this gives us an opportunity to help out," he said.
Soulier retired as Harrisburg fire chief in 2009, after serving with the department for 31 years.
Not long after, he joined the Fairview Township Fire Department, where he also provided education outreach to students at Fishing Creek and Fairview elementary schools.
“He really gravitated towards it and formed a bond with these kids," Weidenhammer said.
The chief said the kids he's interacted with have since sent Soulier get-well cards.
“It was a pretty special thing," he said.
For the April 1 events, he said members of the community and businesses have helped out, including Mission BBQ, which is sponsoring the dinner.
"Everything that we make is going to go directly to Dan," Weidenhammer said.
Weidenhammer said he spoke with Soulier, whom he visits frequently.
“He’s just really overwhelmed by the outpouring of support," he said.
For more information on the fundraising events, check the department's Facebook page.
— Reach Christopher Dornblaser at email@example.com or on Twitter at @YDDornblaser.