Sycamore helps escort ailing firefighter home

Community welcomes Brad Belanger home

Sycamore police briefly shut down a portion of Illinois Route 64 in downtown Sycamore on Monday, Dec. 18, 2023, to help welcome a motorcade for longtime Sycamore firefighter Brad Belanger's return home from Northwestern Medicine Central DuPage Hospital.

SYCAMORE – The Sycamore community rallied behind one of their own Monday night as first responders helped escort a Sycamore firefighter across multiple counties and back home after a hospital stay.

Roads were briefly shut down for about an hour in DuPage, Kane and DeKalb counties to help show community support for Sycamore firefighter Brad Belanger and his battle with esophageal cancer.

The motorcade left Northwestern Medicine Central DuPage Hospital in Winfield around 4:30 p.m. and drove through Sycamore about 45 minutes later.

Sycamore Fire Chief Bart Gilmore said he thinks about 10 separate fire and police departments helped facilitate the motorcade, including the city of DeKalb and departments in Kane and DuPage counties.

“We were very happy with the turnout we got, we were happy for the participation of the police, both local and county. Just really very happy with the event,” said Gilmore.

Around a dozen people lined the corner of State and Maple streets in downtown Sycamore around 5 p.m. Monday for the motorcade’s procession, including Sycamore City Manager Michael Hall and City Clerk and Recorder Mary Kalk.

The Sycamore Firefighters Local 3046 union helped coordinate the effort.

A social media announcement on the Sycamore Fire Department’s Facebook page went out about 3 p.m. Monday.

“In honor of the many sacrifices he has made throughout his career for the Sycamore community and those nearby, we want to make sure he arrives home safely,” Sycamore fire officials wrote in the social media post.

Belanger has been a firefighter and paramedic with the Sycamore Fire Department for nearly two decades.

He resigned from his newly-elected position on the DeKalb County Board in January amid his cancer diagnosis.

Sycamore police helped close intersections in downtown Sycamore on Monday, Dec. 18, 2023, for a motorcade honoring city firefighter Brad Belanger on his way home from Northwestern Medicine Central DuPage Hospital in Winfield.

A GoFundMe public fundraiser was set up to aid Belanger’s care. As of Monday, $29,056 has been raised from 232 donations.

The Syamore Fire Department urged the community to remember to give the Belanger family their space.

“[W]hile we understand the desire to express sympathy and concern, we also ask for your understanding and cooperation in respecting the family’s privacy during this challenging time,” fire officials wrote. “They appreciate the outpouring of support from our tight-knit community and would like to navigate this difficult journey with a sense of peace and serenity.”

A crowd gathered to stand on State Street to welcome Sycamore firefighter Brad Belanger home from Northwestern Medicine Central DuPage Hospital on Monday, Dec. 18, 2023.
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