EAST MILLINOCKET – As a firefighter, EMT or police officer, Andrew Turcotte has always loved to serve.
He was a part-time cop, volunteer firefighter and emergency medical technician in town and is an Old Orchard Beach firefighter when he isn’t working for LifeFlight of Maine’s Lewiston branch.
“It’s just his nature,” his aunt, town office secretary Cherri Deveau, said Monday. “Some people just have it in them to be that kind of caring person, and I think that’s what he is.”
Gov. John Baldacci, Katahdin region residents and firefighters from Boston to Presque Isle will gather at the public safety building on Thursday to express their appreciation at a spaghetti dinner and silent auction to help the 26-year-old Litchfield man defray costs of cancer treatments.
Turcotte, who was raised in East Millinocket, has tumors on his spine. He is hospitalized at Maine Medical Center in Portland, said Peter Larlee, a town firefighter and chairman of the 10-member On Fire For Andy Committee, which is organizing fundraisers.
“He is a very good kid. A young kid,” Larlee said, “one of those kinds of kids that is always giving to others. Now is a chance for the state of Maine to give something back to him.”
Besides Baldacci, firefighters from across the state and into Massachusetts, even New York, have pledged to help or attend, Larlee said. The dinner and auction will run from 4:30-7:30 p.m. The public is invited. More than 300 people are expected.
“We’re geared to feed 1,000 people,” he said.
Area businesses have donated about 50 items for the auction and residents and businesses have donated about $1,000, Larlee said. Anyone wishing to donate items or money is asked to call 746-3555. Those who attend are asked to make donations at the door.
Turcotte’s spirits are good, but his prognosis might be daunting, said Shawn Smith, an Old Orchard Beach firefighter.
The spinal growths “are kind of baffling to his doctors,” Smith said, “because they usually start in the brain, not on the spine.”
“He is not doing too good today,” Deveau said Monday. “He has some spinal fluid leakage from a previous surgery and they are trying to stop that. They have done three procedures so far with no luck. They will keep trying.”
Yet the fundraiser is raising Turcotte’s hopes, she said.
“It really has done a lot to make him realize what people up here are like,” Deveau said. “He has been gone from this area for eight years, but people still remember him. It gives him a lot of encouragement.”
Larlee encouraged residents to give as generously as possible.
“He has health insurance, but he is looking at a year to 1 1/2 years before he can work,” Larlee said.