GFD raises $20,000 for boy and his family’s fight against cancer

Fire Departments have long been a keystone of community involvement but to members in Guilderland they’re even more than that — they’re family.

When one of their fellow firefighter’s 17-month-old son, Cooper Lare, was diagnosed with cancer in November 2012, departments in the area stepped forward and volunteered to host a series of fund-raisers to pay for his medical costs. Local fire and ambulance services have held events hosting hundreds of community members.

The most recent was a dinner by the Guilderland Fire Department; Fire Chief James Schanz presented the Lare family with proceeds totaling $20,000 from the event. Schanz said the fund-raiser attracted about 800 people.

The donations go to helping Cooper Lare and his family pay for expenses associated with transportation, lodging, and food, while they travel for treatment to locations such as Boston or New York.

“He’s just like any other kid; he wants to go and play,” said his mother, Cristen Lare. “The appointments can be kind of tough on him.”

Cooper has had multiple weekly appointments recently, some of them requiring long travel and taking several hours, she explained.

Cooper’s father, Josh Lare, has been a volunteer with the Guilderland Center Fire Department for 20 years.

Josh and Cristen took Cooper to Albany Medical Center on Veterans Day where doctors discovered a rare cancer causing a large tumor to grow in Cooper’s stomach. The couple first observed the mass in late October but an initial examination by a pediatrician dismissed the couple’s concerns.

As a large bulge developed, Cooper had frequent fevers and a loss of appetite, said Cristen Lare.

Cooper’s worsening condition compelled the family to visit the Albany Medical Center’s emergency room, where doctors discovered the cancer. A surgeon would eventually remove the growth, which his mother said weighed several pounds by that time.

The family would spend two weeks at the hospital, while Cooper received treatment in the Albany Medical Pediatric Intensive Care Unit.

“Being a part of a fire department really is like being part of a family. It is a family,” said Cristen Lare.  “We’ve been overwhelmed by the amount of support. We would really just like to thank everyone, you have no idea how much this means to us.”

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