Mother of late firefighter cooks meals for local fire station

Reporter: Andrea Guerrero Writer: Jack Lowenstein
Published: Updated:
Leticia Flores. Credit: WINK News.

A local woman is dishing up lunch for firefighters in Southwest Florida.

Leticia Flores’s son served as a firefighter who died of cancer he developed on the job in 2018. Her son worked in Boston, and she calls Lehigh Acres home.

Flores is treating local firefighters to say thank you for their hard work and tell them about her son.

For 32 years, Jaime Galarza served the City of Boston as a firefighter.

When his mom, Leticia, sees a fire engine on the road, she thinks about her son.

“It brings a lot of memories, good ones too,” Flores said. “The fact that they help and my son was one of the ones that was helping.”

Firefighter Jaime Galarza. Credit: Shared with WINK News.

Galarza thought nothing of throwing on 150 pounds of protective gear and running into a fire, but he couldn’t beat cancer.

“When I knew that he had the cancer, I was in denial because no one in our family has cancer,” Galarza said.

Firefighters have a 9% higher risk of cancer than people in other jobs. Galarza died of lymphoma three years after his diagnosis.

“A beautiful smile, a beautiful heart,” Flores said of her son.

In 2019, the Florida Legislature agreed there is scientific evidence showing a correlation between firefighting and certain cancers. Now, the state mandates employer-funded cancer benefits for firefighters.

Flores’ heart goes out to her son’s brother and sister firefighters, so on her birthday, she paid tribute to her son’s legacy by delivering warm meals to the men and women at Station 102.

“It’s very nice because sometimes you feel like you get lost out here,” Firefighter Dennis Walsh said. “So when you do see the people that come around it’s like, ‘Oh, wow, we actually do mean something to people.”

Galarza’s legacy lives on through the actions and in the heart of his mother.

“It makes me proud,” Flores said. “It makes me feel proud that he was able to serve the way he wanted to.”

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