A new Chief for the day

With family, friends and firefighters in attendance at Keizer Fire District, a new Fire Chief was sworn in. 

Only three months prior, KFD Fire Chief Ryan Russell had taken the oath, and now, on Aug. 12, Russell read the oath out to 11-year old Maddox Schmidt as Honorary Fire Chief. 

Maddox has been battling Ewing’s Sarcoma, the second-most common type of bone cancer found in children, and was recently placed on hospice, though you wouldn’t be able to tell from the smile on his face and if you spoke with him. 

“He’s not sad about anything,” Maddox’s mother Brittany Nichols said. “He just goes with everything. And I am very upfront with everything about the process and he wants to know what’s going on with his body at all times. And I tell him, and he’s still so strong and happy and doesn’t let this make him sad.” 

Ewing’s Sarcoma attacks the bones and soft tissue, most often in the legs and pelvis. Maddox has had to begin using a walker or wheelchair, but it still has not brought his spirits down. 

As could be expected, Nichols said Maddox’s positive attitude has made the ordeal easier on her and Maddox’s father, Derek Schmidt. 

“If he was handling it worse, it would make my heart broken for him and I would have a hard time with it,” Nichols said. 

Derek said that Maddox isn’t necessarily a “firefighter kid,” but when the opportunity came up Maddox was all over it. 

And the family is appreciative of the honor. 

“We really appreciate everyone showing up and this support from the community, support from all,” Derek said. “Dallas coming all the way out here and the Salem truck coming in. Marion County and just the whole community in general. We just appreciate everyone coming and supporting this.” 

The appreciation for the moment spread beyond Maddox’s family, and through to everyone inside the KFD bay on Sunday. 

“It’s really our honor to be here today,” Russell said. “I wish it was 10 degrees cooler, but other than that, I’m excited to be here. It’s not very often you get a chance to do something that feels so meaningful.”