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Renton firefighter dying of cancer is celebrated, honored

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RENTON, Wash. -- A firefighter is in a fight for his life as he battles the final stages of cancer.

Donovan Eckhardt has only been given weeks to live and now a community is coming together to honor and help a man who spent years helping others.

Members of the Renton Fire Department gave a hero’s farewell to one of their own. They all lined the streets to show Eckhardt how much he means to them.

“We feel so fortunate to be a part of the fire service family,” said Jamie Eckhardt, Donovan’s wife.

At fire station 11, Donovan’s locker sits empty.

On Sunday, he cleaned it out and left this station for the last time.

Outside, his family of firefighters honored him.

Radio dispatch paid a tribute to Donovan saying:

“The Renton Fire Department and citizens of Renton and all your brothers and sisters in zone 3 would like to thank you Donavan Eckhardt for giving us example of what a firefighter truly is.”

Dozens of members from the community and various fire districts came out to show their support to a man who made an impact on so many.

Donovan is in the final stages of cancer and his battle is bringing his fellow firefighters to tears.

”He’s always been about everyone else and that day that was about everyone else letting him know just how much he means and letting him see that,” said Michael Bain, a Renton firefighter who fought back tears when he talked about Donovan.

On that day, firefighters lined numerous overpasses along Interstate 5 to show Donovan their love.

“He’s always been the type of person to help people. He’s always kind of had that inside of him at all times,” said Gannon Eckhardt, Donovan’s brother.

Donovan is only 37-years-old has been fighting Squamous Cell Carcinoma for the last two years and for a short time he and his family thought he beat it, but the cancer came back and this time it’s terminal.

“We’ve tried to be optimistic throughout his treatment and the finality of it has only been about a week or two. I don’t’ think anyone plans on being a widow at 36, with a 3-year-old and a newborn,” said Jamie Eckhardt.

Donovan has only been given weeks to live and his days now are spent at home with his wife and his 3-year-old son William. He even had his mother and brother come up from California to be with him.

“Being in such gratitude for spending as much time as we can with Donovan,” said Karen Eckhardt.

As a way to honor Donovan and everything he’s done, longtime friend Michael Bain created Lionhardt, an organization that helps firefighters and their families going through situations like this and providing them support and financial stability while families cope with a loss.

“He’s our champion and is why we do what we do,” said Bain.

Lionhardt also put together a YouTube video honoring Donovan which they hope will help his memory live on.

For more information on Lionhardt, click here.

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