Ill. firefighter, single dad of 7, receives holiday surprise

The family found their garage full of gifts donated by the fire department and family friends


By FireRescue1 Staff

SHOREWOOD, Ill. —  A firefighter and single father of seven had a helping hand in celebrating Christmas this year. 

Frankfort firefighter Jeff Otte has been caring for his seven children since his wife left in January after their 9-year-old son, Brandon, had brain surgery, reported WGN. His son is battling a rare form of brain cancer. Another son also has a severe form of autism and is non-verbal.

The Otte children range from ages one to nine. 

“When someone tells you your son has cancer, it was like, shock,” Otte said.

Otte said his sister, Cindy, has been helping care for the children, but was recently diagnosed with breast cancer, reported ABC.

“There’s been a lot of obstacles and a lot of roadblocks thrown at us,” Otte said. “We’ve run at them full force and hurdled them over.” 

In an effort to offset the burden of Christmas presents and emotional stress Otte and his children have experienced, fellow firefighters and Santa Claus surprised them last Thursday. The family found their garage full of gifts donated by the fire department and family friends. They were also gifted a trip to Disneyland Dec. 26. 

“Being a firefighter, you never expect to have to ask for help,” Otte said. 

A GoFundMe page has raised over $16,000 to help pay for childcare.

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