By Chris Mc Loone
In his keynote, “Everyone Can Be a Hero,” Steve Pegram, chief of the Goshen (OH) Fire Department and ISFSI president, related his wife Mollie’s pulmonary fibrosis diagnosis and her path to recovery from it. It was no easy experience, and he shared with attendees how various people in his life—whether family, friends, fire service brethren, or his community—came together to help him and his family when they were in need after he and his wife had dedicated their lives to helping others. Mollie Pegram is here today because she received a lung transplant.
During his presentation, Pegram introduced attendees to his closest friends, some of whom we knew as leaders in the fire service and some whom we got to know very well by the end of his speech. As Mollie grew sicker and lost her ability to do what she most wanted to do in life—“She wanted to be a mom,” Pegram said—these people played larger and larger roles in their lives.
The presentation was very moving as Pegram traced his and Mollie’s journey from a cough, to her literally dying, to her being brought back, and to her receiving two new lungs. It was a journey that included eight hour round trips from Goshen to Cleveland for Mollie’s care. It involved family and friends coming together to help raise money for Mollie’s care and her lung transplant. They waited, and as days became weeks, and weeks became months, Mollie was on the brink of singing paperwork for a last resort to keep her alive as they waited for a lung donor. As she was signing the paperwork, she got the call—her lungs would be en route. When she got the word, Pegram said it was one of the only times he saw her cry throughout her ordeal.
As his presentation concluded, Pegram reminded everyone to remember their faiths, their friends, and their families and that everyone can be a hero. The heroes in his case were his family, friends, and community and ultimately the donor whose lungs have given Mollie Pegram the ability to be a mom again. Pegram encouraged everyone to become organ donors—allowing everyone in the room to be a hero without even leaving their seats.