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Parade honors Berks County firefighter battling brain cancer

By Jamie Stover, Reporter, JStover@wfmz.com
Published On: Dec 28 2013 05:35:18 PM CST

Parade for a hero

SINKING SPRING, Pa. -

A man in Berks County is continuing his fight with a rare form of brain cancer, after he was given just months to live.

Ronnie "Moose" Wentzel, 51, of Sinking Spring was diagnosed with Glioblastoma almost two years ago. His wife Dianne said doctors expected him to live just six to eight months. February will mark two years, she said.

Wentzel spent most of his life helping his community. His titles included firefighter, police officer, and EMT. Most recently, Wentzel served as deputy chief with the Reading Fire Department.

Now in hospice care, friends and family said Wentzel has already lost his ability to walk and talk. Wentzel's wife said he sometimes forgets the people closest to him.

"The forgetfulness is very hard sometimes. I'm not always sure he knows who I am," Dianne Wentzel said.

But no one is forgetting Ronnie Wentzel.

On Saturday, a large number of emergency responders came together to celebrate all that Wentzel has done for them, and the community.

Fire departments from throughout Berks County and beyond participated in a parade around Wentzel's Octagon Avenue home in Sinking Spring Saturday morning.

Alyssa Ruffner helped organize Saturday's event.

"He doesn't know how much he's done for everyone. A true hero," Ruffner said.

Sirens sounded as fire trucks, ambulances and other emergency vehicles traveled by Wentzel's home.

"His eyes lit up.  He knew. He kept saying 'wow!' Certain rigs that came from farther distances.' Wow.' He understood. He definitely understood," Dianne Wentzel said.

"His personality came through that smile," said Stacey Kerns, a longtime friend of Wentzel's.

The event was planned in secret, and by 11:30 a.m more than 40 companies were lined up at Wilson High School.

"Everyone that drives by today is a personal friend of his," said Dave Pettis, a friend of Wentzel's.

Friends are organizing a second event on Tuesday, New Year's Eve, to show even more support for Ronnie Wentzel and his family.

According to the Moose Strong Facebook Page, "Light up the Night" will be held out front of Wentzel's home. Participants are encouraged to bring glow sticks, sparklers or other bright lights to light up Wentzel's front lawn at 7:30 p.m. on Tuesday. Organizers said a curtain will block Ronnie's view of the lights until the time of the event, so it can be a surprise.

More information can be found here.