More than 100 fellow firefighters, friends and family members of Central Coventry Fire Captain Bill Hall gathered at Olde Theater Diner on Thursday night to support Captain Hall and his family during his fight with cancer.
Donations were accepted at the entrance to the event that drew a crowd from near and far - even as far as Florida, where Bill's mother flew in from to surprise him. At the end of the night, firefighter and organizer Joe Bourquin tallied $4,500 that would go to Bill and his family, along $100 in Nino's gift cards from restaurant owner Charlie Cunha and Providence tickets from Town Councilman Carl Mattson.
During the evening, guests enjoyed food, drinks and live entertainment from local band "Here Again", as well as several emotional speeches and the presentation of a banner reading "Coventry Professional Firefighters Local 3372, Taking Care of Our Own Since 2006", that was signed by the groups of firefighters. The highlight of the evening were the dozens of Bill's friends and colleagues who had their heads shaved to lend him additional support in his fight.
"I don't have to say this but I'm going to, these guys have been working without pay for coming up to three weeks now and they need your respect, they deserve your respect and they need your applause right now," said a tearful Captain Hall as he thanked the men and women of the district for being part of the special evening. "I'm honored to be associated with these people," he continued. "I need to thank all of my friends for coming out, I really appreciate it. You just gave me so much hope."
Ted Dion, fellow firefighter, friend and President of the RI Chapter of Pink Heals also spoke on Bill's behalf.
"Bill called me and said 'Ted, I gotta talk to you, we're gonna talk about this cancer thing' and in the hospital room, he started to tell me what he was told, I said, 'ya know what, call me when you're ready to lace up your boot straps and we're going to fight this thing,'" said Dion. "Each one of us are standing elbow-to-elbow tonight in honor of you Bill, and we are going to sit behind you every step of the way from now, through Massachusetts General, whatever you need to do, the ladies and gentleman in this room are here for you, we love you, we are going to support you through this whole thing."
To follow Bill's progress and witness firsthand the outpouring of support for him from the community, check out the "Team Bill" Facebook page by clicking this link.