The members of the Hill family were on their way from their Northwood home to Hope Community Church in Oregon for a Sunday service when they dropped by Fire Station No.1 in downtown Toledo for a pancake breakfast.
But they did not come just for pancakes and syrup; they came to pay their respects and take part in an event they said would help build both hope and community.
They came for the inaugural Toledo Fire & Rescue Foundation “For Pete’s Sake” event.
The foundation is named in memory of Peter J. Jaegly, 49, a 20-year Toledo firefighter who became a battalion chief in 2011. Chief Jaegly died Oct. 6 in Hospice of Northwest Ohio on South Detroit Avenue after a 2½-year battle with cancer.
“Pete and his family are part of our firefighter family so we want to help support them,” Meredith Hill, 36, a 10-year-veteran Toledo firefighter and paramedic, said.
“Heaven forbid that there would be other catastrophic injuries or illnesses [among us] but we hope the organization grows to deal with them.”
Her husband, Glenn Hill, 47, a 21-year firefighter and paramedic veteran of the fire department, and their children — Garrett Hill, 7, and Marcie Hill, 5 — were among about 100 people who were having breakfast at the outset of the event.
Prepared for about 300 people, the family event ran from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m., closing nearby streets to traffic.
“This foundation is being established to help Toledo firefighters who suffer a catastrophic illness or injury, and is funded and supported by firefighters and local businesses,” said Lt. Matthew Hertzfeld, Toledo fire department spokesman.
“While the idea of a foundation to aid Toledo firefighters has been contemplated for several months, it was brought to the forefront of the discussion with the untimely passing of Battalion Chief Peter J. Jaegly.”
Greeted by the department’s mascot, Sparky the Fire Dog, some people headed straight for the doors, mingled, and made donations before sitting down for breakfast. Others — primarily children — first checked an outdoor exhibit of antique and modern fire vehicles and a trailer that is used to teach children fire safety.
Nora Jaegly, Chief Jaegly’s widow, and their daughters, Katie, 14, and Sophie, 12, also attended the event.
Ms. Jaegly declined comment when asked for it through Lieutenant Hertzfeld.
“The overwhelming costs to any family in the Jaeglys’ position can be devastating, so, in early October of 2013, the Toledo Fire & Rescue Foundation ‘For Pete’s Sake’ was established,” he said.
Also, an account was set up at the Toledo Fire Fighters Credit Union for donations to the foundation.
The account is “into thousands of dollars” already, the fire department spokesman said.
The foundations’ sponsors include Ed Schmidt Auto Group, Hanson Inc., The Blade, Burkett Restaurant Equipment & Supplies, Rick’s City Diner, Meredith Party Rentals, American Rent-All Inc., Sysco Corp., Al Peake & Sons and Daughter Too, Ace Sanitation, Chariott Foods Inc., Irelands Embroidery & Custom Printing LLC, and Metzgers Printing & Mailing.
Lieutenant Hertzfeld said event organizers were “humbled with the support” from local business and firefighters.
“The foundation is set up to help firefighters and their families who have catastrophic illnesses and injuries. And it has happened to several of us recently. It always happens. But as a firefighter family — and we all consider ourselves a family — this is another way to help and support each other,” Mr. Hill said.
While the Hills talked, Garrett and Marcie, their young son and daughter, were finishing their meals. The Hills’ oldest daughter, Grace Hill, 18, a freshman at the University of Cincinnati, was out of town and could not attend the event, her mother said.
Cost of the pancake breakfast was $10 for adults and $5 for children.
There were also $20 T-shirts that bore the foundation’s logo.
Lieutenant Hertzfeld said organizers plan to hold the event “every year from here on.”
Mike Sigov at: firstname.lastname@example.org, 419-724-6089, or on Twitter @mikesigovblade.