Posts Tagged firefighter battling ALS-Lou Gehrig’s Disease

Kankakee Firefighter Derek Hogg (more)

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Kankakee Firefighter Derek Hogg continued to work for a year and a half after he was diagnosed with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis in May 2013.

Holly Hogg, Derek’s wife, said that Derek made the decision to step back from firefighting when his arm gave out during training.

“If you can’t run into a building to pick someone up, it’s probably not a good idea to keep in that line of work,” Holly said.

Derek may have retired from firefighting, but he didn’t retire from helping others. He raised awareness and impacted the ALS community through his annual participation (through 2017) in the Les Turner Strike Out ALS 5K and Walk Run and Roll.

A celebration of Derek’s life will be 8 p.m. Tuesday at Baskerville Funeral Home, 700 E. Kahler Road in Wilmington.

After attending Joliet Junior College, he went on to Chief Shabbona Fire Training Academy and the paramedic program at St. Mary’s Hospital Emergency Medical Services in Kankakee. While at the academy, he worked for the Troy Fire Protection District, and later for the Kankakee City Fire Department and the Wilmington Fire Protection District.

On Dec. 11, Derek announced on his Facebook page his decision to remove himself from life support. He was intubated Oct. 29 after a cold turned into pneumonia and septic shock. In that post, Derek said he was leaving the world a better place because of his children.

By the time Derek was hospitalized, he had a feeding tube and communicated with eye-controlled assistive technology. He died Dec. 15. He was 34.  Derek and Holly are the parents of Paxton, 5, Hayden, 3, and Brinlee, 1. 

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Kankakee Firefighter Derek Hogg

From the Kankakee Township FPD Facebook page:

Today Derek Hogg, a Kankakee City Fire Department firefighter, ends his battle with ALS by taking himself off life support. He has fought his disease with all he has. Please keep his family and friends in your thoughts and prayers. He will leave behind a wife and 3 small children. See you on the other side

Kankakee firefighter Derek Hogg

Kankakee Firefighter Derek Hogg

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Friends help former Kankakee firefighter

Excerpts from

 It has been a terrible and magnificent year for Derek Hogg. He’s the former Kankakee firefighter battling ALS-Lou Gehrig’s Disease.

Last year he was still fighting to keep his job. It’s a fight he lost, but now he has gained something much greater. Hogg left his job as a Kankakee firefighter after city officials refused to extend his employment by a few weeks so that he would qualify for a disability pension.

At 33, Hogg suffers from ALS-Lou Gehrig’s Disease, which is a muscle wasting condition for which there is no cure. He now needs a walker and sometimes a wheelchair as his body continues to deteriorate.

“That was my life, helping people. And now I’m in a position where people have to help me. It’s really hard,” Hogg said.

Hogg, his wife Holly and their two young boys are doing their best to get by. Holly works part time as a teacher, and Hogg gets a small social security check. There have been numerous fundraisers by suburban fire departments that have helped, other firefighters recently built a new driveway at the Hogg’s home in Channahon, and a neighbor is about to install a wheelchair ramp.

“Well I’m not gonna sugarcoat anything. It’s been very difficult. Everything’s like a domino effect with him going downhill with his health and with the whole financial situation,” Holly said.

Hogg and Holly say they still can’t understand why the city of Kankakee wouldn’t help him work desk duty a little longer so that he would qualify for disability, which is something the city says would have been bending the rules. They made a dramatic appeal to Kankakee’s mayor last year.

“So I ask you again mayor, will you let my brothers and sisters on the fire department assist me?” Hogg asked. “There’s nothing I can do to reverse that decision,” the mayor responded.

Now, Hogg sees a silver lining in that failure.

Spreading awareness and getting word out there that ALS does exist, and ALS does drastically affect people and their families,” he said.


“I think what mostly affects him is not being able to do anything. He can’t work. He can’t drive. So he’s depending on other people. You can tell it’s affecting him,” Holly added.

There have been triumphant moments as well. Last summer, Hogg finished a 1.5 mile race, which was a fundraiser for ALS, crossing the finish line after two hours with the help of his son’s stroller.

On Wednesday, Holly gave birth to a healthy baby girl named Brinlee Grace.

“Her middle name is gonna be Grace. Because I think she’s going to be my little saving grace,” Hogg said. “I think a positive mental attitude is 99-percent of the battle. And it’s gonna be impossible to be negative holding a baby in your hands.”

Friends of the Hogg family are trying to help get Derek a conversion van. They have started a Go Fund-Me page to raise money for it.

Friends are hoping to raise $10,000. They say a used conversion van costs more than $30,000 and Hogg’s insurance won’t pay for it.

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