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Town rallies for local firefighter

As a firefighter from a family of firefighters, Sgt. Luke Story with the Jonesborough Department of Public Safety knows all about battling against impossible odds to win.
He also knows that he isn’t in this latest battle alone.
“Luke Story is amazing. He is one that has stood behind everybody who works here,” said Maj. Natalie Hilton.
Just a few weeks ago, Story was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer. Now its time to stand behind him, Hilton said.
“Luke is strong,” she said. “He’s a fighter. He’s going to fight it full force.” But he is going to need help, she stressed.
The department already has T-shirts and window decals on sale to raise money for Story.
“We have bracelets coming,” Hilton added. A “Benefit Luke Story” account has also been set up at First Tennessee Bank to receive donations.
And on Sept. 16, the Johnson City Firefighters Association Local 1791, teaming up with Jonesborough Public Safety, petitioned the Jonesborough Board of Mayor and Aldermen for a special event application to hold a benefit fundraiser, “Ridin’ for Luke” on Saturday, Oct. 18, at Persimmon Ridge Park.
“I had an opportunity to catch Luke in the fire bay the other day and spent a couple of minutes with him,” Mayor Kelly Wolfe told the board. “He was highly aware and appreciative of the fact that the town was his family.
“There are so many ways to express your love to someone at this time. He doesn’t need to worry about money.
“Let’s continue to show him the love he so deserves.”
The board unanimously approved the request.
The event, Hilton said, promises to not only be a great benefit for Story, but also a fun one for the whole community.
The festival will feature a fundraiser motorcycle ride kicking off at 11:30 a.m. at WetlandsWater Park at Persimmon Ridge, traveling through Greene County to Hot Springs, N.C., before returning to Jonesborough.
Hilton also promises a raffle, cornhole tournament, food, live music and more.
All monies raised will go to help Story. T-shirts are available for a $15 donation. Bracelets and decals are $5. Festival prices include $15 per motorcycle rider and $5 per passenger, which includes entry into the festival; $5 per non-riding festivalgoer and $20 per team for the cornhole tournament.
According to Story, the strong reaction of friends, family and coworkers has already made a tremendous difference in this difficult time.
“The support really keeps my head up,” Story said. “It keeps me going.”
Just 36, Story had recently visited the doctor about pain in his side, according to Hilton. After a diagnosis of pancreatic cancer, he was given a prognosis of three months to live without chemotherapy; eight months to a year with chemotherapy.
Story said he hadn’t even thought about the financial challenge involved, yet Hilton was ready to jump in immediately to ease that burden.
“She has been awesome,” Story said. “She has been the leader of this. And she had done so much.”
For Hilton, the town and fellow firefighters across the region, even firefighters across the country, supporting Story is the right thing to do.
“His dad was a firefighter from Johnson City, his brother is a Johnson City firefighter. It’s a family thing for them,” Hilton said. “He’s been overwhelmed with the love from the community he has gotten. And it has really brought the fire department together.”
Right now, Story said, that love is keeping him going.
“The thoughts and prayers are number one and the support from the people,” Story said. “Without these people being beside me, I couldn’t do it.”
For more information or updates on “Ridin’ for Luke,” visit www.iaff1791.org or call Hilton at 753-1045.