By Justin Schmidt, Multimedia Journalist - bio | email
KANSAS CITY, MO (KCTV) -
Firefighters are a tight-knit group, so when one of their own got sick, some Kansas City firefighters promised to go one step further to show their support.
It started out as a silent auction to help firefighter Jerry Bayton's family pay for his cancer treatment, but it turned out to be a whole lot more.
"As soon as the word got out, it blew up on us," firefighter Mark Gunter said.
Gunter's head was the first shaved at Saturday's fundraiser.
"We've made the promise that, until Jerry gets his hair back, we won't either," Gunter said.
The food, the slides, the karaoke and so much more were all donated and there to raise money for Jerry Bayton, nicknamed Kong.
"The bills are just starting to come in," Vikki Bayton, Jerry Bayton's wife, said. "This fundraiser is going to allow me to pay some of those bills and not be on a payment plan like I thought we'd be."
Jerry Bayton was diagnosed with multiple myeloma in June. He's been in treatment, and unable to work. He was given a stem cell transplant in October. For the past month he's been in quarantine, not able to hold his kids.
"He doesn't want us to see he's sick, he wants us to be happy," 10-year-old Brendan Bayton said.
But at least at a distance, he saw friends Saturday.
"Every hello, every good luck, really, believe it or not, it's uplifting," Jerry Bayton said. "I can't put into words how it makes me feel."
Every firefighter at Saturday's event said they have their own Jerry Bayton story, and that's why they give.
"If you're new, he'll take you under his wings," Gunter said. "It wasn't hard when people found out who it was for, they jumped on board."
And the outpouring of support from the community is amazing all involved.
"It's great that the community has stepped up. It's eye-opening," Gunter said. "We help the community every day - to see it turn around and come back to help us, you can't put that into words."
Saturday's event raised $28,299 for Bayton and his family.
If you'd like more information on how to donate to the Bayton family, click here. You can also go to any U.S. Bank and ask to donate to the Jerry Bayton fund.
Copyright 2012 KCTV (Meredith Corp.) All rights reserved.
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