Bone Marrow Donor Firefighter: "It's What We Do!"
If you need a life saved, it doesn't take anything more than a cry for help for a firefighter to come to your rescue. You can bet your most prized possession that a firefighter will be the first to volunteer to come to your aid, whether it's in a raging fire or otherwise.
Testament to this is Firefighter Billy Zask of Canarsie's Engine 257, who was among a group of Fire De-partment volunteers who agreed last year to undergo DNA testing by the New York Blood Center to see if they are matches to bone marrow transplant patients.
Zask and 15 other volunteers from various firehouses were chosen as don-ors and were honored recently by the department and the city for their hu-manitarian contribution.
The biggest honor, however, was when Zask was introduced to a 4-year-old boy who was a recipient of his bone marrow last year.
The 26-year-old firefighter, who also works with Battalion 58 and Ladder 170 - Canarsie's Bravest - out of the Rockaway Parkway firehouse, told reporters that he was "a little nervous" to meet Alex Jomar Maldonado Cruz of Puerto Rico and his mother Jenny Cruz.
Blood Center officials reported that Alex was diagnosed with a rare blood disorder that determined the youngster would not live beyond "just a few years." But there, shaking hands with Zask, was a robust - if not downright chubby - young boy, ready to either take on the world or, perhaps grow up to become a firefighter himself.
Zask modestly accepted the thanks of Mrs. Cruz, agreeing with his firehouse peers who say, "It's all part of what we do."