TOWNSEND -- Years after losing two firefighters to cancer, members of the Townsend Fire/EMS department gathered Sunday to present a check for more than $13,400 to the Massachusetts General Hospital Colon and Pancreatic Research Center.
The money was raised at the group's third annual golf tournament in September, in honor of Capt. William Hamilton, who died of pancreatic cancer in 2010, and Lt. Donald Amadon, who died of colon cancer in 2011.
The event, held at the Townsend Ridge Golf Club, brings together members of the department, the families of Hamilton and Amadon, local businesses and others in the community to raise money for cancer research.
"We do it to honor the families, support the cause, and help find a cure," said firefighter Brett King, who organizes the tournament.
Of the total $15,600 raised this year, the majority went to Mass General, while the remainder was put into the Fire-EMS relief fund, to provide assistance to those in need in the community.
In total, the department has contributed about $35,000 to Mass General in the past three years.
"It's a great cause, and I commend the guys in the department and all those from outside the department who helped out," said Fire Chief Donald Klein.
Members of both firefighters' families return to help run the fundraiser each year.
Gary Amadon, the brother of Donald Amadon, thanked the department for its support of a cause that affected his family deeply.
"What happened to my brother was traumatic and it still is, and it still hurts us. Cancer hit us hard, so we want to see progress in trying to cure it," Gary Amadon said.
"We have to conquer this and fight this," said Ellen Amadon, Donald's mother. "There'll be a day."
This year, about 120 people participated in the golf tournament, as well as dozens of sponsors.
Although in past years, more people have participated, the group still raised more this year than ever.
"We had a lot of sponsors step up this year. Even though we were down on players, we still raised more than in past years," King said.
"It brings us all together. On the day of the event, almost everyone in the department helps out. It's good camaraderie," he said.
In a statement, a representative from Mass General thanked the fire/EMS department for helping the hospital to make progress toward a cure.
"As funding for research is shrinking and becoming more competitive, Mass General must continue to rely on philanthropy. The funds raised by Townsend Fire-EMS relief are instrumental during this time, and are critical to keeping pancreatic and colon cancer research moving forward," said Sara Silacci, senior managing director of development at Mass General.
Lt. Bill Elliott said that he's most looking forward to the day when the department's contributions are no longer needed.
"We're hoping that soon, we won't have to do it anymore, because we'll find a cure. Then we'll just have one big party," Elliott said.
Next year's tournament will be held Sept. 6. Those interested in participating will be able to sign up on the group's website, www.tfdemsgolf.com.
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