AEDC Firemen Honor Young Cancer Patient

AEDC Fire Department personnel put their crew patches together on a black background for a high resolution photograph used to make a poster to provide moral support to Mark Kelly Olson, a 10-year-old boy battling cancer at Vanderbilt Medical Center. (Photo by Rick Goodfriend)

Mark Kelly Olson, the 10-year-old son of ATA Operations Controller Mark Olson, dons a customized fire helmet he received from the Arnold AFB Fire Department as the young man battles cancer at Nashville’s Vanderbilt Hospital. (Photo provided)

When Arnold Engineering Development Complex Fire Department Chief Daryle Lopes sent an email out to the worldwide fire protection community seeking moral support for a young man battling cancer, to say Chief Lopes was pleased and impressed with the response is an understatement.
Mark Kelly Olson is a 10-year-old boy who was diagnosed with very high-risk, acute lymphocytic leukemia in May and was later adopted by the Arnold AFB Fire Department as their new deputy fire chief. Olson is the son of Mark Olson, an Aerospace Testing Alliance operations controller at AEDC.
“My wife and I are grateful for the outpouring of support for our son, who is also very appreciative,” Olson said.
Chief Lopes’ message to all firefighters said, “Fellow chiefs and firefighters – We have an outstanding opportunity to support a fellow firefighter and a true hero in the true spirit of the holiday season. Please post a picture of your fire department patch and a few words of encouragement on the Facebook page at Go Team Mark Kelly, at www.facebook.com/TeamMarkKelly.”
Lopes, who is a retired Air Force chief master sergeant, said, “The response we got was overwhelming, not just from local departments, but from firefighters around the world, including Air Force, Department of Defense, civilian and volunteer fire departments from everywhere imaginable.”
Kip Luttrell, an AEDC fire crew chief said the one word that comes to mind is family.
Lopes said, “Mark Kelly has been bravely battling the cancer as well as a number of significant complications. He is in and out of the hospital, fighting hard to get better, and he needs us to stand with him. By virtue of his heroic efforts, Mark Kelly has been adopted by the Arnold Air Force Base Fire Department and promoted to the rank of deputy fire chief. Everyone at Arnold Fire is proud of Mark Kelly. We are truly thankful to call such an awesome young man one of our own.”