In one week's time, firefighter has received 340 shirts from across the USA as he battles leukemia
BUFFALO, NY – The response has been, in a word, overwhelming.
One week ago, Two On Your Side aired a story about Dave Blank, a member of the North Boston (NY) volunteer fire department who is battling leukemia, and who wished to receive tee-shirts from other fire companies.
His plan was to wear during his chemotherapy treatments, as a means to remind him that his firefighting brethren were in this battle right along with him.
One of his nurses at Roswell Park Cancer Institute, Kelly Smith, who is also a volunteer firefighter
took it upon herself to reach out to other companies to see if they would send shirts.
Their goal was a modest one…to try and get a tee shirt from every volunteer company in Erie County.
But a funny thing happened on the way to mail box Monday.
"My mailman is going to have a serious problem with me, I know," laughed Smith, as she prepared to wheel a cart into Blank's hospital room on Tuesday.
The cart was spilling over with stacks of tee-shirts, some 189 of them, which had arrived in the mail the day before.
They came from fire departments from across the nation, from as far away as Alaska and Hawaii.
"Holy cow," gasped Blank, when Smith entered his room. "Just to see this…I'm speechless," Blank said.
Between this latest batch and the 150 that had been sent to him in prior days, Blank has received approximately 340 shirts in one week.
They include one from a member of the NASA fire department in Cape Canaveral, Florida.
Along with the shirts, there are other articles, such fire department patches, and challenge coins.
"Of course my hair will be gone at some point, so someone sent me a firefighter doo-rag from San Francisco, so it's pretty neat," said Blank as he marveled at the generosity and support of his fellow firefighters.
Many of the packages also contained touching letters of encouragement.
"I want to read every one of them," Smith said.
"The fire service is a brotherhood, and this just proves that again," said Smith, as he gazed at mementos sent from people he's never met from places he's never heard of. "I'm going have to google some of these places because I don't know where they are."
Blank will learn in a day or two whether his chemotherapy has been effective to the point where it will allow him to embark on a bone marrow transplant, which will require another 100 day stay in the hospital.
He won't be want for something to wear.
"I'll probably have to end up wearing two shirts a day, one in the morning and the other in the afternoon," he laughed.
And every day, he'll wear another shirt... or two, until the day hopefully comes when he gets what he wants most from his doctors.
Two simple words.
If you are a member of a fire company, and you'd like to send along a tee-shirt for Dave Blank, you can drop them off at, or mail them to the Amherst Bee, 5564 Main St, Williamsville, NY 14221
You can also find out more on the Williamsville Fire Department facebook page.
Blank wears a size XL tee shirt.
There is also an online effort to raise funds for David Blank's medical bills.
Click on the video player to watch our story from 2 on Your Side Reporter Dave McKinley and Photojournalist Dooley O'Rourke.
Follow Dave on Twitter: @DaveMcKinley2