ROCHESTER, N.Y. (WROC) — The Rochester Fire Department is giving back to a local organization that helps teens and young adults battling cancer. They’re selling calendars again this year and the proceeds go to 13thirty Cancer Connect.
James Blaesi is a Rochester firefighter and is featured in this year’s RFD calendar. When he was 14-years-old he had a condition on his arm.
“They didnt know if it was a skin condition or what and it traveled across my back. After many biopsies doctors didnt know what I had,” Blaesi said.
He said it was tough going through high school while dealing with the side effects of the treatments. That’s why he’s been working with 13thirty Cancer Connect for 20 years now: to give back.
“I’m very tied to that organization it’s got a special place in my heart, I went through it. 13thirty has built an organization that helps teens live the best life they can live with the circumstances and cards they were dealt.”
13thirty connects teens and young adults with cancer and helps them live their best lives. Lauren Spiker founded it as a promise to her daughter Melissa who died of cancer at age 19. This year, Blaesi approached Spiker about donating the proceeds of this year’s calendars to her organization.
“Jimmy suggested the proceeds go to 13thirty Cancer Connect not only because of his personal connection to our organization, but knowing firsthand what it’s like to be a teen navigating these challenges,” Spiker said.
2020 marks 20 years since Spiker founded 13thirty and COVID forced them to shut down in-person programs and move to virtual ones. Spiker said fundraisers had to be cancelled and personal donations are down, making the proceeds from the calendars mean even more.
“Certainly the funding coming to us will help us launch our next 20 years in 2021 with a bigger cushion we would’ve had otherwise. We’re longing for the days we can come back together and hug in person.”
The fire department will be out at the Public Market selling the calendars Thursday from 6-9 p.m. and Saturday from 9 a.m. – 1 p.m. Calendars can also be ordered online here.