Rochester firefighters walk for one of their own

Apr 8, 2019

Rochester firefighters donned their full firefighting gear and walked for more than a mile through Dartmouth at Walk MS on Saturday April 7. 

Ten firefighters and students in the department’s explorer program took part in the walk on Sunday to support one of their own: Fire captain Jeff Eldridge, who was diagnosed with MS in 2013.

Multiple sclerosis, or MS, affects the central nervous system. It causes the body's immune system to attack and damage nerve fibers and myelin, a fatty substance that protects the nerve fibers. The effects can be widespread, unpredictable, and debilitating. There is no cure for MS.

“The reason we walk in our gear is it’s not easy, and neither is living with MS,” said firefighter/EMT Tracy Eldridge, Jeff’s wife.

When Tracy and fellow firefighters learned of Walk MS, they put together a team, called Hero’s Walk, in 2014. They’ve been at it ever since, and this year raised $3,000.

For the walk, Jeff donned a Rochester Fire Department helmet given to him by a prior department deputy chief. The helmet includes messages written by fire departments from across Florida.

“To see his reaction to people supporting him is awesome,” Tracy said.

More than 400 participants spread across 27 teams walked for a cure in Dartmouth. Walk MS events were being held across the country on April 7, including Boston. The Dartmouth walk raised more than $75,000.

“It’s an event to bring together the community to raise funds for MS research,” said Katia Sekaly, manager of Walk MS. “The National MS Society envisions a world free of MS.”