Santa Clara County

Santa Cruz and Santa Clara firefighters make big donation to 8-year-old battling cancer

Local firefighters donate to young boy's battle against cancer

SANTA CRUZ, Calif. - Sunday local firefighters came to the rescue of an 8-year-old boy who is battling cancer and his family battles growing expenses to treat it.

Santa Clara and Santa Cruz County firefighters presented a check for $6,900 to Hayden Jilka's family.

Through tears Samantha Jilka said "It's been amazing. Words can't even express how thankful we are."

Hayden Jilka was diagnosed with Rhabdomyosarcoma, cancer of the soft tissue, last fall.  Hayden started five weeks of daily radiation and the Jilka's insurance covers a lot of the medical expenses but not everything.

"It's been a major stress reliever to not worry about our bills and focus on Hayden," said Jilka's mother.

Doctors say Hayden is doing well and he's responding to the treatment; his tumor has shrunk over a centimeter.  

On March 8th, 26 firefighters flew to Seattle for the Annual Seattle Firefighter Stair Climb to help Hayden. The group climbed the Columbia Tower with 1,900 other firefighters from all over the country.

Adam Cosner, founder of Team G Childhood Cancer Foundation can relate to the Jilka's situation, his daughter is a cancer survivor as well.

"I mean I have no words you know, it was so important for us when we were going through my daughter's cancer treatment to have and it's so much more than the money, it is the support, it's the generosity, the kindness," said Cosner who is also a Santa Clara firefighter.

Sunday Hayden was all smiles Sunday, climbing up on the fire trucks and hanging out with the men he calls heroes, "Because they rescue people from fires."

Each year over 13,000 children are diagnosed with cancer in the United States, that's more than a classroom of kids a day, according to Kids Versus Cancer.

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