Excerpts from a followup article by MyFoxChicago.com about Kankakee firefighter Derek Hogg

A Kankakee firefighter with a fatal disease is getting new help in his battle against City Hall.

Derek Hogg, a firefighter diagnosed with ALS–Lou Gehrig’s disease, is about to be dumped from his job, just months short of qualifying for his pension.

Hogg said he and his wife holly have been swamped with letters, calls and emails after FOX 32 first reported last week on his fight to get his pension. “We had thousands of people respond, and come and say how can we help? We support you and we have your back,” said Hogg’s wife Holly.

Two years ago, the 31-year-old firefighter was diagnosed with ALS, a terminal illness. As Hogg’s condition worsened, he had to give up firefighting and was put on desk duty.

On February 19th, Hogg’s job and his FMLA will expire, just months short of his June 1st anniversary date. That’s the date Hogg would qualify for a disability pension of $3200 a month. It is money that would continue to be paid to his wife and two young children after he dies.

Hogg’s fellow firefighters volunteered to come to his rescue and work his shifts until June 1, but Kankakee mayor Nina Epstein shot that plan down saying it’s not allowed by pension law.

For 35 years, Wendy Abrams has run the Les Turner ALS Foundation in Chicago, which has raised tens of millions of dollars for research and helping patients with ALS.

After seeing FOX 32’s story, Abrams wrote a letter to the Kankakee mayor, asking her to reconsider her decision. “I figured she was the one who made the decision, so I should just tell her how I felt,” said Abrams.

“In my heart I know that you personally would like to help this family, but we need you now to step up, be creative and make it happen,” the letter read.

“Most employers want to help. They really don’t want to deny the people that have worked for them so long to make them comfortable in their time of need,” Abrams said.

The Les Turner ALS Foundation is planning a social media campaign to put heat on the mayor, and is also supplying the Hogg’s with a lawyer to explore whether Kankakee has followed the law.

On Wednesday, Mayor Epstein told FOX 32 News by phone that she’s received many “hateful responses” to her decision, but cannot change her mind. “I understand the emotion, but I do not understand how people are asking me to forget the legal basis for this decision…We have done everything possible to accommodate this man, short of granting him his pension,” she said.