A fire chief who has given four decades of service to our community is now in need of support himself.
Local firefighters are rallying around Chief Kelly Robinson, who has served southern Iredell County citizens with Shepherds Fire-Rescue, where he’s chief, and Mooresville Fire Department, where he’s battalion chief, for 37 years. Robinson, a husband and father of a 10-year-old son, was recently diagnosed with cancer for the sixth time in 20 years — not even a year after undergoing surgery for his last battle with the disease.
While firefighters who love and respect Robinson can’t help him carry the weight of a new diagnosis, they’re committed to helping him and his family carry the financial burden of treatment.
On Sunday, Dec. 17, the Mooresville Professional Firefighters Association will host a benefit ruck to raise money for Robinson’s treatments. Firefighters will carry weight on their backs and shoulders, walking 27 miles beginning at 8 a.m. at Shepherds Station 1/Mooresville Station 4, continuing to each Mooresville and Shepherds fire station until they finish back at Shepherds Station 1/Mooresville Station 4.
Evelyn Lopez, a Shepherds Fire-Rescue firefighter/EMT, is also holding firehouse holiday mini photo sessions with Santa and a fire truck this Saturday, Dec. 16, at Shepherds Station 1 on Charlotte Highway. To book a session, click here.
“He’s such a humble man,” Lopez said of Chief Robinson. “He hasn’t asked for anything other than prayers. He told us he will still be here at the station, being our chief in between treatments. He loves his job. He loves his community. My hope is to show him that the community he loves and cares for so much feels the same about him.
“He’s such a great man,” she said. “I am so honored to call him my chief.”
Proceeds from the minis and the ruck will go directly to Robinson and his family to help with medical expenses. A GoFundMe to raise $10,000 has also been set up here.
As news of the benefits has spread on social media, words of support for the chief are being shared.
“I couldn’t think of a better man than Kelly Robinson,” wrote Troutman resident Bryan Selvey, who joined Shepherds VFD as a junior fireman in the late 1980s and said Robinson was “more like a second father to me.”
“He was always there when I needed him when I was growing up,” Selvey wrote. “He helped me in the times when I was a jerk of a teenager and when I would get in trouble. He taught me so much that I still remember to this day.”
Iredell County Commissioner Gene Houpe called Robinson a “dedicated, compassionate public servant.”
Tonya Rome wrote that she grew up with multiple family members active at Shepherds VFD. “I can’t think of a time that Kelly wasn’t there,” she said. “Countless hours working BBQs, rescues and training hours — he dedicated his life to the department and the community.”
Justin Cagle volunteered with his dad, first as a junior member and then as a senior member of Shepherds VFD. “Kelly was there and took me into my first fire, and that was the day I was hooked on the fire service,” Cagle recently wrote on Facebook. “When my dad suddenly passed away, Kelly was there for our family. He helped Mom a lot during the process of planning and even donated time to me to be paid to be off work as I had just gotten on shift and had no PTO.
“Kelly has been like a second dad to me my whole life, always crossing paths wherever my life went, always being there as a leader, mentor and friend. He has always taken care of everyone else,” Cagle wrote, “and it’s now time the community steps up and takes care of him.”
Shades of Love is also helping raise money for Robinson’s family and his medical expenses. Donations are tax-deductible, and all information can be found in the Shades of Love flyer above. For more information or to register for the ruck, click here.