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My Brothers' Burden Walk: Local firefighters remembering one of their own

My Brothers' Burden Walk: Local firefighters remembering one of their own
My Brothers' Burden Walk
My Brothers' Burden Walk
Posted at 5:26 PM, May 10, 2018
and last updated 2018-05-10 14:06:39-04

TALLAHASSEE, FL. (WTXL) - A retired firefighter completes his walk from Key West to Tallahassee. What started as a promise to friends became a call to help Florida firefighters.

Tom "Bull" Hill, a retired firefighter, started his journey on foot from the Florida Keys to the State Capitol on March 20th. 

We were with him Tuesday, as he made his way through Jefferson County and again Thursday afternoon.

In total, Hill walked for 50 days, and nearly 700 miles, carrying over 900 names, and mow can finally say that he fulfilled his promise to two of his fallen firefighter brothers.

"I've just kind of been walking by faith this whole time," explained Hill on Tuesday. "I haven't used a map because the firefighters have taken care of me and said, 'well we'll help you get to the next county, the next area.'"

Hundreds of firefighters from all over the state came to Tallaahssee to help Hill walk his last four miles to the Capitol from TFD Station 6. For one Patty Thurman and her children, this march and the cause really hits home.

Thurman's husband, Chris, passed away from cancer in January 2016, and she still remembers the day they got the news.

"He was diagnosed on June 15th, and the doctor told us, 'tomorrow, June 16th, you'll be at Shands at 8:00 in the morning.' From June, and he passed away in January, it was just a whirlwind of crying, but trying to stay strong," remembers Patty Thurman.

For Patty and their children, Chris was their whole world, but to his firefighter family, he was personable, kind, and strong.

"Chris Thurman was the kind of guy that would do most anything for you," says Captain Drew Schroeder with the Tallahassee Fire Department. "You wouldn't necessarily see him away from the fire department because he was such a family man."

Just as families do, Tallahassee Fire Department continues to look after Patty, though she hopes this walk will bring change.

"People don't know actually what firemen really do or what they're exposed to," says Patty. "Yes, they go into fires sometimes. Yes, they work accidents, but they're also exposed to different chemicals and you don't know how it's going to impact them in the long run."

Even Captain Schroeder recognizes that cancer is a real problem for firefighters, "I've been fighting fires for about 27 years now and it seems like the last few years we've lost some really honorable brave firefighters due to things like cancer."

Honorable and Brave, two words to describe Chris Thurman and the bond between fire departments, firefighters, and their families.

Hill told WTXL he's trying not to think about the walk coming to an end because of all the people who have lost firefighters to cancer.

He says, many feel less burdened because of what he's done, but still urges people to call their representatives and ask for "presumptive cancer bills" to be passed.

Read part one here: My Brothers' Burden Walk: Walking Across the State to Raise Awareness

You can also "like" the My Brothers' Burden Walk Facebook page for the complete journey.