Something you should know about Captain Chris Orloske, may he Rest In Peace.
Emergency responders, who serve us all so humbly and bravely, don’t often share with the community their own challenges they are facing like cancer, PTSD, or suicidal thoughts, because they put our citizens first. In 2018, we took a risk. The Kansas Firefighters Alliance invited firefighters who were touched by cancer in some way to meet for a group picture for our calendar, dedicating the month of October to cancer awareness.
Captain Orloske surprised me when he came. I didn’t realize until that moment he was fighting for his own life. With a big smile, he said, “Mrs. Peters, I’m Chris and I’m so happy to be here. I’ve wanted to be in that calendar of yours, and I wasn’t going to miss this. Thanks for doing this.” He was the only active duty firefighter with cancer who showed up that day. The rest were retired firefighters. He was supporting us, while KFA was trying to support them.
Watching everyone hug during that blazing hot day at the Kansas Firefighters Memorial Plaza, dedicated to those who died in the line of duty, was the most humbling, sweet moment for many reasons. A fire chief had driven more than four hours to be there. A son, who had just started his new career as a firefighter, came to support his dad who retired early because cancer. So many others had touching stories, too.
Captain Orloske’s presence brought a peace and joy to everyone that day. He blessed us all, and we are forever thankful for his service, friendship, dedication, and kindness to all. He lived in a way that inspires us all to do our best and to be our best, even through the most challenging times of life.