Fort Smith Community Helps Local Firefighter After Tragic Loss

FORT SMITH (KFSM) — Olivia Jade was born to Fort Smith firefighter Justin Potter and his wife Megan on August 8th. She had a defect of the diaphragm and spent about a week in the NICU fighting for her life before she passed on August 16th.

The fire department decided to host a burger plate fundraiser in her honor to support her family through this tragedy.

“The fire department is a family. We live together for 24 hours at a time every third day. We do stuff off-duty, our families do together so, one of our family members is in need, so we’re trying to raise some money to help ease the financial strain on them," Darrell Clark, Fort Smith Fire Department Battalion Chief said.

The Fire Department planned for about 400 people but soon started to run out of food as the community showed up in substantial numbers.

“It’s just a good cause to get out and help someone in our community that really needs it. Any chance that we get we like to come down and support what we can.” Marcie Cuellar, Baptist Health Physician Representative, said.

This is not the first time the fire department has stepped up to help a family member. All of the funds raised will help pay for medical and funeral expenses.

Firefighters say the Potter family is coping well.

“They reached out and said that they can’t express how grateful they are that we’re doing it. We’ve done it for others in the past, and he was here to help serve food when we had a chili cook-off for another firefighter in the past. We’re happy to do it for him," Clark said.

Justin and Megan Potter said in a statement:  “We will never be able to express our gratitude to those who have been here to lift us up and show us even in our darkest days, we are still blessed.”

The Potter family adds they are absolutely blown away by the outpouring of love from the fire department and the community. They want to thank everyone for their support.

Olivia Jade was laid to rest Tuesday at the Oak Valley Cemetery in Lavaca. She leaves behind her parents and older sister.

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