Members of the Roberts Park Fire Protection District were in unison praising the dedication of Lt. Clint Sanders.
Sanders was injured on Dec. 27 as the Roberts Park Fire Department answered the call to put out a blaze at about 10:30 a.m. in a home in the 8800 block of West Fawn Trail in Justice. Sanders, 44, was transported to Loyola University Medical Center in Maywood with smoke inhalation and burns to his hands and face, according to a hospital spokesperson.
The encouraging news for the department is that Sanders’ condition has stabilized even though he is still in critical condition and is being intubated. A hospital spokesperson said that Sanders, a Hickory Hills resident who is married and has two children, should make a full recovery.
“Clint is a very dedicated to his profession and is a great family man,” said Roberts Park Fire Chief Jeff Ketchen, who attended a fundraiser held Sunday afternoon at the Roberts Roadhouse in Hickory Hills to assist the family with expenses. “We had a great community effort. The place was filled to capacity.”
Ketchen has worked with Sanders for 24 years in the department. The fire chief said that Sanders was a positive influence on the force and his hard work and dedication was well known among the members.
The fire is still being investigated. The fire was put out in about 10 minutes. No other firefighters suffered injuries, Ketchen added. According to published reports, the fire began downstairs and spread upstairs.
Ketchen said that a Go Fund Me page has been set up by the family and Ketchen said over $46,000 had been raised before the fundraiser. The goal is to come up with over $100,000.
Ketchen said that it is too early to tell how much money was raised at the Roberts Roadhouse event. Guests began to file in early Sunday afternoon and took part in a variety of raffles while socializing and watching a Blackhawks game.
Rhett Golema is also a member of the Roberts Park Fire Department and has worked with Sanders for over 21 years.
“He is just a phenomenal person,” said Golema, a Palos Hills native. “I trust him with my life.”
Golema agreed with Ketchen and others who attended the fundraiser Sunday that it was a large turnout.
“It was pretty awesome,” Golema added. “I should mention that this (fundraiser) was formed by family and friends who are not part of the fire department. They did a great job organizing this.”
Golema said that the firefighters will hold a benefit for Sanders at a later date. Golema added that Sanders is improving but will remain hospitalized for a while.
“He is a stand-up guy and a great firefighter,” added Golema.
Sanders’ sister-in-law, Charlotte Johnson Sanders, also attended the fundraiser and was overwhelmed by the response. She posted on Facebook that “we are so humbled for the love and support you all have for our family. The amount of people who came out today was unbelievable.”
The money raised will assist in paying the mortgage and help with the tuition for Sanders’ children. The funds will go his wife, Sheila, to assist with these expenses while Sanders recovers from his injuries.
“I personally want to thank the whole community for the outpouring of support,” Ketchen said.