Jimmy Riley has spent 14 years helping save lives in Plant City as both a firefighter and a paramedic. Now that he’s undergoing treatment for brain cancer, Plant City is coming together to return the favor.
Many local businesses, individuals and first responders in town are pitching in to help cover the costs of Riley’s treatment and to take care of his family during their trying time. Though the Plant City Fire Rescue-led fundraising efforts have been going on for several weeks, the most visible event was held Sunday morning at several locations on Alexander Street.
The Jimmy’s Fight fundraiser was a two-part event that utilized both the Walden Lake Car Wash and the parking lot at the nearby Alexander Oaks Plaza.
At Walden Lake Car Wash, volunteers washed and detailed cars from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. and collected $25 donations for Riley. Because the car wash is normally closed on Sundays, owner Frank Cummings turned the business over to the volunteers for the whole day and was on hand with his fellow Plant City Lions Club members to help.
“They literally said, ‘Here’s the key to our business, y’all make it happen,’” PCFR Captain Chris Rodriguez said.
There were food, games and music for everyone at the plaza parking lot and donations were also collected all day. Dozens of local sponsors — “too many to name,” Rodriguez said — set up tents, came to hang out and did whatever they could to help. Fire departments from Tampa, Temple Terrace, Lakeland and Hillsborough County Fire Rescue brought trucks and came out to support the cause.
“In the 18 years I’ve been here, I’ve never seen all these units get together,” Rodriguez said. “Ever. The brotherhood is just amazing.”
The event was entirely volunteer-run and all of the money raised that day will go to the Riley family.
Riley was diagnosed with glioblastoma multiforme (GBM), a rare and aggressive form of brain cancer, in March and has been undergoing treatment for roughly three weeks. Rodriguez said he complained of a headache one day as he left work, ended up in the emergency room that night and was diagnosed with GBM.
Rodriguez said PCFR vowed to help Riley win one of the biggest fights of his life as soon as they heard of his diagnosis and that the fire department felt Sunday’s fundraiser was the best way to make a big splash right away.
“I just want this family to be taken care of,” he said. “I really want them to be taken care of because as a father and a husband, I couldn’t imagine what they’re going through. I want them to be taken care of in any fashion that they can be.”
Though this fundraiser came to an end Sunday evening, anyone wishing to donate to the Riley family can do so on JimmysFight.com.