Young Cancer Survivor Named Honorary Firefighter

BALLSTON SPA – They blocked off Front Street for Nicholas Rychcik on Monday, as the Village Board started its meeting outside in his honor.

The 11-year-old from Ballston Spa arrived from a Little League baseball game in the fire chief’s car with its siren going, and was greeted by a sizable crowd including his family, teammates, public officials, and about 35 firefighters. Rychcik and his teammates wore uniforms with shirts indicating they were sponsored by American Legion Post 234, which is in the village.

Ballston Spa Fire Chief David Whittredge told the Journal that Rychcik is a “cancer survivor” who had desmoplastic small round cell sarcoma  which is now in remission. He still gets check-ups but is “now free and clear” of the disease, Whittredge said.

A smiling, self-assured Rychcik was greeted by Mayor John Romano, who made a short speech calling this “the most special night I’ve ever had as mayor,” and presented the boy with a plaque naming him an honorary firefighter — which a vote by the board then made official. Whittredge gave him a firefighters’ helmet.

Romano said the presentation was to fulfill Rychcik’s dream of becoming a firefighter, and quoted Walt Disney as saying: “Any dream can come true if you have the willpower and desire to pursue it.”

In other business, the board accepted a $54,700 low bid from A.J. Arpey Inc. of Ballston Spa to work on adding an entrance and lift on the west side of the Front Street village office building to make it compliant with the Americans with Disabilities Act. The board had previously rejected higher bids for the project, and decided to do some of the work in-house to reduce costs.

In the public comment period, Frank Rossi Jr., attorney for developers of the Walmart project in the town of Ballston south of the village line, said a traffic study indicated the planned Schenectady casino will not have a significant impact on the project. The town Planning Board had at its last meeting asked the developers to look into that matter.

The board voted to pay $2,454.79 to inspect, recharge and replace fire extinguishers, of which it has 74 in need of service, Romano said.

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Did you know the Eagle-Matt Lee Fire Company turns 200 years old next year? Follow the event page on Facebook for details on their celebration activities, CLICK HERE.


Reporter Bob Conner has worked 21 years in various positions at the Gazette of Schenectady, and before that four years as a reporter at the Glens Falls Post-Star. He won two first-place writing awards from the New York Associated Press Association for newspapers with circulation between 50,000 and 250,000. Bob has a Phi Beta Kappa bachelor’s degree in journalism from New York University, and an associate’s degree in chemical dependency counseling from HVCC. He is a published author and is currently writing a historical novel about the last four months in the life of Ulysses S.Grant

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