There wasn't a dry eye on Poplar Street Tuesday night.
Matthew Knoebel, 13, and his mother, Christina Simpson, stood out front of their home, with tears down their faces, and welcomed the heroes at their doorstep.
The red lights from the engine and the tower ladder truck of Upper Gwynedd Fire Department illuminated the entire length of the quiet Lansdale street on a crisp February night — this time they were not signaling for an emergency.
They were beacons of charity.
Upper Gwynedd Fire Chief John Scheiter, along with fellow members and volunteers, hand-delivered to Knoebel and Simpson a check totaling $1,560 in proceeds garnered from a special hoagie sale last Saturday.
"He's a great kid, and we thought it was a great opportunity to do something good to help the family out," said Scheiter.
Knoebel, a Penndale Middle Schooler, has been fighting acute myeloid leukemia at Children's Hospital of Philadelphia. He has undergone numerous chemotherapy treatments and will face another cycle of treatment after Friday. From there, it is on to preparations for a bone marrow transplant.
However, on Tuesday, Knoebel was in the midst of a vacation, hanging out at home, before his next cycle, with close family members and friends. He looked comfortable and relaxed in a Phillies sweatshirt Tuesday night; his struggle was not evident.
The red lights shone a depressing hue on the faces of those family and friends, but their smiles and eyes radiated joy and gratitude.
"I'm overwhelmed," said Simpson, wiping the tears from her cheeks. "Once again, people are supporting us and fundraising for us and doing so much."
The community and North Penn School teachers and classmates have rallied around Knoebel and his battle since the diagnosis in October 2012. Neighbors organized a bake sale fundraiser, family and friends organized a pancake breakfast fundraiser at Applebee's and the American Red Cross and Corpus Christi Church sponsored a blood drive and bone marrow registry.
All proceeds from these fundraisers go to Knoebel and his family.
"Without it, I would be at work and not be in the hospital with Matt," Simpson said. "Matt is very happy. He's thankful."
Simpson was amazed at the charity and the good things that people do.
"Before all this, I had a feeling like there was no good left in the world," she said. "It comes from every direction. My faith once lost in people is restored."
Knoebel appreciated the support from so many people, even ones that do not know him or his family.
"Word can spread," he said. "It goes from one person knowing to the whole community. So many people do things and I don't know them."
Read more on Knoebel:
- Upper Gwynedd Fire Rallies Around Young Lansdale Leukemia Fighter
- Community Supports Lansdale Youth at Bake Sale Fundraiser
- More Than 300 Attend Pancake Fundraiser for Lansdale Youth