Participants brave freezing temperatures at the 5K walk. Around $4,500 was raised. A 10K walk is set for Feb. 20, beginning in Macomb Township.

Participants brave freezing temperatures at the 5K walk. Around $4,500 was raised. A 10K walk is set for Feb. 20, beginning in Macomb Township.

Photo by Erin Sanchez


Thousands raised in winter walk for firefighters

By: Alex Szwarc | Macomb Township Chronicle | Published January 26, 2022

 Macomb Township Firefighter Joe Warne leads the way Jan. 16 at a walk to help firefighters who are battling cancer. The #walkfor thered140 5K took place at River Bends Park in Shelby Township.

Macomb Township Firefighter Joe Warne leads the way Jan. 16 at a walk to help firefighters who are battling cancer. The #walkfor thered140 5K took place at River Bends Park in Shelby Township.

Photo by Erin Sanchez

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MACOMB TOWNSHIP — Despite below-freezing temperatures, the walk carried on.

The morning of Jan. 16, Neighbors United hosted an outdoor walk to help firefighters who are battling cancer.

The #walkforthered140 5K took place at River Bends Park in Shelby Township.

The event was described as an opportunity for the community to get involved and help firefighters.

Macomb Township Firefighter Joe Warne, who also is the founder of the nonprofit organization, said eight walkers were present.

This was a shorter version of the 140-mile walk that Warne has done the past three years.

“We had a good time,” Warne said. “Some of the walkers did it to get out and exercise and liked the cause, wanted to get involved, donate and help sponsor. A lot of people got to know why, for the first time, firefighters get cancer.”

About $4,500 was raised from the walk. All walkers raised a minimum of $100.

In the past, Neighbors United has held a February walk benefiting children with cancer.

“As of right now, we have nine firefighters in the state of Michigan that have cancer who we haven’t helped before or their cancer has come back that we haven’t helped before,” Warne said. “We’re going to shell the money out at the end of the year.”   

While she couldn’t participate in-person, Julie Sidelinger raised over $1,500 for the walk.

Sidelinger, from Ypsilanti Township, is the wife of the late Craig Sidelinger, of the Ann Arbor Fire Department. Craig Sidelinger died in January 2021 at the age of 45 following a battle against colon cancer.

“It’s shocking when you have someone who is young and healthy and then all of a sudden this happens,” she said.

In September at Warne’s 140-mile walk, Sidelinger was one of five women who were honored who lost their husbands.

“Joe contacted me last year as Craig was nominated as one of the honored for the walk,” Sidelinger said. “I did a little of the walk, and since then, we’ve been in contact for fundraisers.”

She said Warne is very committed and motivated to fight for firefighters with cancer.

“Cancer has become such a big problem for firefighters — more so now,” Sidelinger said.

“When my husband went into the field 20 years ago, I never would have dreamed that would be the reason he would die. Neighbors United is a wonderful charity helping people.”

She commented that more people are realizing what a problem firefighter cancer is.

Warne noted that people supporting firefighters with cancer continue to show him that firefighters belong to one of the most loved professions in the country.

“People want to help those that have helped them,” he said.

Warne indicated a 10K walk is set for Feb. 20, beginning in Macomb Township and ending at Jimmy John’s Field in Utica. Money raised from that walk will go to terminally ill children and firefighters with cancer.

Another walk is planned in Texas, March 10-13.

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