Firefighters donate Mega Millions winnings to ailing fellow fireman

UPDATE: I spoke with Albuquerque Fire Department Public Information Officer Melissa Romero who passed along this website for Vincent Cordova. If you're interested in donating to Condova's recovery fund, you can follow that link and find more information on who to contact to make your contribution. Original story begins below.


Five Albuquerque Station Eight firefighters who won a $10,000 share of the Mega Millions jackpot last week have decided to donate an unspecified part of their winnings to fellow fireman Vince Cordova, who is suffering from a life-threatening tumor.

"We decided to get tickets ten minutes before the sales closed," said Capt. Jed Hyland told local news affiliate KOB. "I ran in shouting that we hit 5 of the 6 numbers."

After convincing their fellow firemen that it wasn't an April Fools' joke, Hyland and his four fellow winners (Steve Keffer, Paul McClure, Clinton Anderson and Si Do) decided to donate part of their winnings to the local firefighters Survival Fund. "Everybody at the station agreed that this would be a good opportunity," Hyland said.

KOAT reports that Cordova, 24, has a rare aggressive tumor that puts pressure on his brain. He'll die if the tumor isn't removed, but life-saving surgery from a specialist in Los Angeles costs several hundred thousand dollars.

While the $10,000 is only a small portion of Cordova's total medical bills, his fellow firemen hope that their donation will help raise awareness and encourage others to donate.

KRQE News 13 reports that Cordova has already undergone two of the three necessary operations, with the final to be performed on Wednesday.

"I'm nervous. I'm scared. I've got these butterflies in my stomach that just won't leave, but I'm hanging in there," Cordova told the station in an interview before his first operation on Saturday. "I can't believe that the fireman bond is so strong."

"I just want to tell everyone thank you for standing by me and staying strong," Cordova said. "Thank you for believing in me, and I promise to see you guys soon!"

The final surgery will be performed by a team of five surgeons and is expected to last at least 10 hours.

"(Cordova) has such a great attitude. He looks at it as another challenge, like he would a structure fire that we face as firemen. He's going to overcome it. He's positive and he's strongthat's the kind of man he is," AFD firefighter Gilbert Baca, who trained Cordova in the academy, told KOAT.

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