Asheville Fire Chief runs marathon to raise money for fellow fir - FOX Carolina 21

Asheville Fire Chief runs marathon to raise money for fellow firefighter battling cancer

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Joy Ponder and Will Willis after she crosses the finish line. (Source: Asheville Fire Department). Joy Ponder and Will Willis after she crosses the finish line. (Source: Asheville Fire Department).
ASHEVILLE, NC (FOX Carolina) -

An Asheville Fire Department Division Chief ran the Black Mountain Marathon on Sunday to raise money for a fellow firefighter battling terminal kidney cancer. 

Chief Joy Ponder ran the marathon and raised money for 33-year-old firefighter Will Willis. In November, Willis was told he has between three to six months to live.

“Finishing a marathon is symbolic of anything is possible and that is what we need to remember about Will,” Chief Ponder said. 

Ponder, a cancer survivor, understands the battle Willis is currently facing. “He is one of the best firefighters we have and a wonderful person so we all need to pull together and help him and his family. Cancer brought me to my knees with surgeries, chemo, and radiation but I’m thankful for my growing strength, this day, and my small steps up this mountain to bring awareness to everyone about Will’s ongoing battle," she said. 

In the last two years, four Asheville firefighters have been diagnosed with cancer. 

“When members of the community call 9-1-1 it is often the worst day of their lives. Firefighters respond every time to help,” said Ponder. “Now cancer has become the number one killer of firefighters and it is our worst day. We need the members of the community to pull together and help Will fight this Battle with cancer.”

A GoFundMe has been set up for the Willis family. 

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