Posts Tagged Kankakee firefighter Derek Hogg

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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Former Kankakee firefighter raises awareness for ALS

Excerpts from

A former Kankakee firefighter who is suffering from ALS is still proving to be a hero. On Tuesday, Derek Hogg walked in the Strike Out ALS 5K. He’s done it for years.

But this time, because of his own battle with the disease, many told him not to, including his worried wife Holly.

“I kinda wanted to make a point of it and really put forth a valiant effort and try to walk as much as I could,” Derek said. “It was definitely an emotional moment for everyone that was there.”

Last year, it took Derek 22 minutes. This year, he managed to walk the last mile and a half in two hours.

“It felt awesome, at the finish line, hugging me and cheering me on,” Derek said.

In addition to fighting off the disease, he has been fighting to get his disability pension.

Months ago, as his condition worsened, he had to give up firefighting and was placed on desk duty.  Then in February, his FMLA expired and he was terminated just months before his disability pension would have kicked in, which would have been at about $3200 dollars per month.

It’s money that would have still been paid to his wife and two boys after he died. But Mayor Nina Epstein said she couldn’t allow it, because it was against the rules.

Derek did everything to try and appeal, and right now he said he has lost that battle, but not the current one. He wants to show people that even though you’re tired, there is still a reason to keep moving forward.

“My father always told me, everyone out there, mentally you can do anything that you really want do,” Derek said. “I just wanted to get awareness out there, and me crossing the finish line has done so,” Derek said.

“The look on his face of sheer determination was amazing. It was definitely there yesterday,” Holly said.

A related post is HERE.

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Kankakee firefighter with ALS leaves work

Excerpts from

Derek Hogg, 32, walked out of the Kankakee Public Safety building for the last time Friday. His six and a half year career as a firefighter was cut short by ALS.

“I like putting on the uniform. I like going to work. I like the way my boy looks at me when he sees the badge on,” Derek said.

Derek, his wife Holly and their two young boys are now faced with trying to get by on a social security disability check of about a thousand dollars a month.

“Not only do I have to worry about losing my husband, the father of my kids, I have to somehow figure out how we’re going to support our children. I have no idea,” Holly said.

On June 1, Derek would have achieved seven years on the job and qualified for a disability pension of $3200 a month, which is money that would go to holly after his death.

However, Kankakee city officials say Derek has to leave now, because he can no longer perform his duties as a firefighter, and his time on light duty has run out.

Derek’s co-workers had volunteered to work his shift until he qualified for the pension, but Kankakee Mayor Nina Epstein refused to allow it, saying that would be bending the rules and set a dangerous precedent.

“Derek is a great firefighter. Outstanding firefighter,” said Kankakee Alderman James Stokes. Alderman Stokes, who’s also a firefighter, said many residents are angry the city has seemingly turned its back on Derek.

Derek and Holly are also hiring a lawyer to explore whether Kankakee violated the Americans with Disabilities Act, and they’ve filed a complaint with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission.

However, that could take months, even years to litigate, which is time Derek simply doesn’t have. He left work Friday for the final time, but is still hoping for a miracle. “I’m still optimistic that one day I’m going to be a fireman again,” Derek added.

thanks Dan

Previous posts are HERE and HERE

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Fight continues for Kankakee firefighter with Lou Gehrig’s disease

Excerpts from a followup article by 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.


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Kankakee firefighters help one of their own

The following is from an article at

They put their lives on the line to save ours. However, one Kankakee firefighter battling a deadly disease said in his time of need, he’s getting no help at all from City Hall.

“Watching the parades when I was two or three, seeing the fire trucks go by, I’m like ‘I want to do that,'” said Kankakee firefighter Derek Hogg … 31 [who] achieved that boyhood dream becoming a firefighter in 2008. But a couple years ago, his body began sending signals that something was wrong.

“May of 2012 I started getting muscle twitches. Didn’t think anything of it,” Hogg said. When it got worse, he saw a doctor and got a shocking diagnosis — ALS or Lou Gehrig’s disease — a muscle wasting condition for which there is no cure. Doctors told him he had only three to five years to live, but Hogg chose to go back to work.

“I loved being a fireman, loved it. And so I went back to work after I got my diagnosis,” Hogg said.

And he needed the money for his growing family. Hogg and his wife holly have two very young sons.

In 2013, the disease had progressed to the point he could no longer be a firefighter, and Hogg was put on desk duty. But that disability duty has a time limit that will soon expire, which means Hogg would be out of a job. That’s when his fellow firefighters came to the rescue.

His colleagues volunteered to work Hogg’s shifts at the firehouse and donate their vacation time and sick days, so that he could stay on the payroll until June 1, which is a critical date. That marks Hogg’s seventh full year on the job and allows him to qualify for a disability pension of $3200 a month. It is money that would continue to go to his family after he dies.

“Thought it was a very simple idea. The city wouldn’t lose a dime,” Hogg said. “Just a huge weight lifted off my shoulders, because with a young family at home I didn’t know what I was going to do,” said Hogg.

Hogg said after the firefighters union okayed the plan, he met with Kankakee mayor Nina Epstein, who told him she was fine with it as long as the lawyers signed off. A month later, Epstein left a voice message saying the city would not allow other firefighters to work on his behalf.

Epstein told FOX 32: “Sadly I cannot accommodate his request… This is a horrible situation, but I can’t look at things that way. I have to look out for the taxpayers… I have to follow the law.”

On Monday, Hogg, his family and a group of supporters went to the Kankakee City Council meeting to address the mayor directly.

“I ask that you not look at this decision as a politician but a human being. One with morals and compassion,” Hogg said. “I ask you mayor, will you let my brothers and sisters on the fire department help me?”

The mayor responded, “I will not continue to discuss it in a public forum… Nothing I can do to reverse that decision.”

This means Hogg will soon lose his job and any chance at the pension that would have helped his family.

“It’s a bad situation, and I feel like they have the opportunity to make it better for us. And they’re choosing not to help us. And I feel like our fate rests in the mayor’s hands,” Hogg’s wife Holly said. “And I don’t feel like she’s doing enough to help us.”

There is precedent — in Pittsburgh recently, firefighters worked the shift of a colleague also suffering from ALS. But the Kankakee mayor said she can’t bend the rules, telling FOX 32 ‘I have 300 employees. Do you think this will be the last horrible situation?'”

thanks Dan

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