Fundraiser aims to send Westchester volunteer fire chief battling brain cancer to Super Bowl

TARRYTOWN, Westchester County (WABC) -- Bill Duggan isn't an active volunteer firefighter anymore, but when the siren sounds, he is still the first to help out, making sure the engine is on its way.

"I've always been an active guy," he said. "I've always helped out."

These days, he's a social member of both the Tarrytown and Valhalla volunteer fire departments, where he spent 41 active years. He even rose to the rank of chief in Valhalla.

"It's the greatest feeling being a member of this department, especially Tarrytown and Valhalla," he said.

Duggan was dealt a setback though, right after his first grandson Michael Nathan was christened. He was diagnosed with stage 4 brain cancer.

"They found a mass, two days later they did surgery," he said. "They couldn't get it all out, but they got most of it out."

After Duggan began treatment, family friend Michael Chillemi started a GoFundMe page to raise money to help Bill achieve a bucket list dream of going to the Super Bowl.

"He's a volunteer firefighter, and he has been helping everyone for 40-plus years," Chillemi said. "The least we can do is try to get him to a Super Bowl and make a dream come true."

Donors have thanked him for his service in the fire department and sent kind messages.

"It's amazing," Chillemi said. "The sense of community and seeing everyone being so selfless, it's inspiring to everyone."

But Duggan thought differently.

"When they started this GoFundMe, I told them to stop," he said. "I don't want you doing it. I didn't want anything to do with it. And they all called me up and said, no, you have to do it. This is for you."

The Super Bowl is in Minnesota's domed stadium, and Chillemi's father David hopes to accompany Duggan.

"I am a big Patriots fan," Duggan said. "But I just want to go to the Super Bowl."

While Duggan is most grateful to the many donors, he remains positive, appreciating all that life has to bring.

"I have my grandson here," he said. "I want to go fishing with him, go to games with him. I'm going to beat this."
Copyright © 2021 WABC-TV. All Rights Reserved.