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Firefighters donate lottery winnings to help colleague

Apr 5, 2012, 8:45 am

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Mega Millions

A group of Albuquerque, New Mexico, firefighters who became Mega Millions winners this week said they're donating money to help save the life of one of their own.

In between fighting fires and saving lives, some firefighters found time to sprint to Circle K and get some mega millions tickets, and that effort paid off. Firefighter Jed Hyland said he had the winning ticket in hand when the numbers were announced.

"Of course, with it being one day before April Fools' and firefighters being who we are, everybody thought it was a prank," Hyland said.

The firefighters matched five of the six numbers. Five firefighters who went in on the ticket won $10,000.

The Albuquerque Fire Department said it is a big family composed of people who support each other through good times and bad. And even though winning money in the lottery was great thing, they said they can't forget one of their own who is in need

Instead of just keeping all of the winnings for themselves, the firefighters said they have decided to donate some of the money to the Survivor Fund and on AFD firefighter Vince Cordova.

Cordova, 24, has a rare aggressive tumor that puts pressure on the circulation of his brain. Doctors said it can be removed by a specialist in Los Angeles, but it will cost hundreds of thousands of dollars.

"(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 strong — that's the kind of man he is," said AFD firefighter Gilbert Baca, who trained Cordova in the academy.

Firefighters said their donation is a drop in the bucket compared to what Cordova needs, but they hope it inspires others.

"We're hoping that our donation and some of the other donations that have been provided by other firefighters and community (members) are going to be able to stimulate awareness to the Firefighter Survivors Fund," Hyland said.

As Cordova prepares for surgery this week, firefighters said they're praying for his quick recovery.

"I know that he's going to do exceptionally well. I know that he will heal up well and be back on shift one day," Baca said.

The winning firefighters said they plan to cash in the ticket all together Monday noon.

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