CELORON – Rick Ross knows his way around an ambulance.
For 20 years, Ross has been a fixture with the Celoron Hose Co. as an emergency medical technician. Before that, he was a member of the Ashville Fire Department.
Last year alone, Ross responded to more than 400 calls, placing him within the top five of the fire department in regards to turnout. It’s an impressive feat for someone with a job.
However, after a 39-year battle with diabetes, Ross recently lost his right leg. The surgery took place in March, and with it came numerous medical bills.
Ross said his passion lies with helping others.
“I’ve always just wanted to help the community,” he said in an interview last week inside the fire department. “Being an EMT, I just wanted to make sure everyone is healthy.”
Ross became a diabetic when he was 18 years old. Doctors told his parents he may not live past the age of 30 as a result.
On March 2, he celebrated his 57th birthday.
Asked what he plans to do now, Ross said, “That’s a good question. I have now clue what’s going to happen. I don’t know what the next step is going to be.”
Ross said he hopes to remain an active member of the fire department, but noted he hasn’t discussed his options openly since the surgery.
On Sunday, a benefit will be held at the Fluvanna Fountain Bowl beginning at noon to help pay for Ross’ medical bills and home improvements for handicap accessibility. Numerous bands, including Ken Hardley and Coal Train, will perform.
The cost is $10 per person. It includes bowling and shoe rental if anyone would like to bowl. There also will be a Chinese auction as well as a ticket drawing.
Said Ross’ daughter, Kylie, “He has given a lot to the community. We hope that the community can come out and support him.”