Excerpts from the newstrib.com:

They had hoped to surprise him Friday with cheering crowds and a procession of dozens of fire engines from across Illinois. But after a long fight with cancer, Oglesby Firefighter Evan Knoblauch passed away Wednesday evening. He was 20.

The program Friday now will be held as a tribute, according to Oglesby fire chief Ron Popurella and Bonnie Prokup at St. Bede Academy, lead organizer for “Evan’s Friday night” at St. Bede. Popurella said a fire truck parade still planned. A candle vigil will be held at 7:40 p.m. at St. Bede following a Mass.

Though not yet certified by the state — Popurella said getting Knoblauch certified posthumously would be a top priority — Knoblauch had completed his primary training with distinction, reporting for class directly after receiving cancer treatments and with no regard for his pain.

Knoblauch quickly earned the respect of his brother firefighters despite his short service. Popurella noted Knoblauch’s last call was to a car accident on June 30, the same day he divulged his prognosis was terminal.

Prior to earning his dress blues, Knoblauch had been a standout student-athlete at St. Bede, which had planned an exhibition flag-football game in Knoblauch’s honor.

Oglesby residents, meanwhile, have honored Knoblauch’s courage with red porch lights that have remained illuminated over the many months he juggled treatments with his city service.