The story grabbed the attention of the entire area. A firefighter risks everything to try to save the life of an adult woman and young child. A sudden on rush of flames results in horrible burns and a long rehabilitation.
Lancaster City Fire Lieutenant Andre Kelley embodies the definition of a hero and is being honored as the second Emerald Hometown Hero during this 2015 season. The tribute is sponsored by Emerald Asset Management, a nationwide equity and fixed-income portfolio management service based in Leola.
“Clearly this man is a hometown hero.”
“Clearly this man is a hometown hero,” said Joe Besecker, CEO and founder of Emerald. “We are proud to use Clipper Magazine Stadium as the community forum in which to honor him.”
Kelley rushed into a burning house on East Madison Street in February 2013. It is understood by first responders, whether fire or police, that you may be injured or even killed on the job at any time. You are there for the community. You don’t hold back. Still, when injuries or deaths do occur, it is incredibly distressing to those affected.
The Central PA community rallied behind Kelley. Fundraisers were held by churches, civic organizations and even by fire departments on the other side of the Susquehanna.
The Barnstormers honored Kelley on Opening Night that season. Although he was unable to attend the event, his wife, Lyondra, and children, Ajanae and Andre, Jr., took his place. It was just a small way to honor a man who sacrificed so much for his community.
An even more emotional moment came later that season when Kelley was able to attend a portion of a game, appearing in the seat that had been saved especially for him all year during the seventh-inning stretch. He received a standing ovation from an appreciative community.
Kelley underwent three months of rehabilitation and eight skin graft surgeries. The pain had to be almost unbearable, yet he never lost sight of returning home to a normal life with his loved ones and to the job he enjoys. He returned to his Lancaster City home in May to a well-deserved hero’s welcome. There was a parade that included Kelley riding in a stretch limo and a convoy of emergency vehicles from around the region.
It was a heartwarming return, but there was still a long road ahead for Kelley. “What is really cool is that he has battled back,” added Besecker.
Earlier this year, that journey back reached, not the end, but a significant milestone. This son and nephew of firefighters returned to work. He is on the job with his professional brothers, once again, serving the people of his city. Kelley is the second in a series of four Hometown Heroes who will be honored by Emerald Asset Management this season.