By Jano Tantongco
After learning that Dix Hills Firefighter Lt. John Vierling was diagnosed with a rare and untreatable form of liver cancer due his work at Ground Zero following 9/11, the fire department has established a fundraising campaign to ease the financial burden on his family as a result of his illness.
On Dec. 16, the department created a GoFundMe page to raise $15,000 as part of the first phase of their fundraiser to aid the Vierlings. Fire Chief Robert Fling noted that the department will also be sending letters asking for donations to each fire department in Nassau, Suffolk and Westchester, and to every NYPD precinct.
As of Monday night, more than $5,700 had been raised.
“We all knew we had to do something. The entire department’s heart goes out to him and his family. We will be here for him,” said Fling. “He’s a gentleman. He’s one of these people you never have a problem with.”
Vierling, first lieutenant of Co. 1 at Station 2, has served at the fire department for almost 20 years. He also worked as an NYPD officer for 20 years before retiring in January 2003. He spent three months at Ground Zero as a first responder.
“Lt. Vierling is an example of a hero who risked his safety and personal health on 9/11 and in the months after without hesitation,” said U.S. Rep. Steve Israel (D-Huntington). “We have a moral obligation to stand together, support these brave men and women, and never forget the selfless sacrifice they made and continue to make for New Yorkers and all Americans.”
The campaign for Vierling was started two days before Congress renewed the James Zadroga 9/11 Health and Compensation Act as part of their year-end spending bill that was subsequently signed into law by President Barack Obama. The renewed act provides $8.1 billion in funding for victims’ compensation and medical treatment and monitoring for first responders at Ground Zero. It previously expired in October when Congress had failed to renew it.
“It should never have taken Congress this long to act, but after… [the] Zadroga Act reauthorization passed, I am pleased that Lt. Vierling and thousands of other first responders will be able to receive the medical treatment that they need and deserve,” Israel added.
If you are interested in making your own donation, visit: www.gofundme.com/mjf6pyc8