The Halfmoon community and its fire departments rallied around one of their own Sunday and got plenty of help to do it. YNN's Geoff Redick reports.
HALFMOON, N.Y. -- They packed the parking lot and stretched the line around the building. It may have been the largest attendance ever for the West Crescent Fire Department's monthly Sunday breakfast.
"We have this the first Sunday of every month," said 30 year department veteran Cholly Smith. "It's just a fundraiser for the firehouse, but this just happened to be a special one."
A special breakfast, for a special man. Allen Ayotte, 66, is a member of one of Halfmoon's oldest ancestral families. He's a 43 year veteran of the West Crescent Fire Department and that's why it's been so hard on the department to see him critically injured and stuck in the hospital.
"It's been kind of a trying time," said Chief Bill Bryans Jr.
Ayotte was hurt on August 14th while responding to a crash on the Northway's Exit 8 off-ramp. He was directing a tow truck into place when the truck accidentally ran him over. Ayotte's pelvis was crushed and his leg broken.
"He's going through some of his major surgeries coming up," Cholly Smith said Sunday. "He made it through a lot of the ones that nobody was too worried about. But these next ones are really the ones he's got to worry about."
Ayotte remains hospitalized at Albany Medical Center and his wife and family have been at his side since the crash. But with multiple surgeries already performed and more ahead, the West Crescent Fire Department knew the family needed help. So the department turned to its own family: Putting out the word about Sunday's breakfast to every Eastern New York fire department they could. Word spread fast.
"We can't extend our thanks enough for the support from the area fire districts all around the community and from around the state quite frankly," said Chief Bryans.
Looking around throughout the morning breakfast, one could count dozens of different department representatives all lining up for their eggs, bacon and pancakes.
"This is great, isn't it?" mentioned one firefighter from Malta as he surveyed the crowd.
Malta's department took the half hour drive down I-87 for the early meal.
"It's brotherhood and sisterhood," said Caitlin D'Allessandro of the neighboring mutual aid fire department, Halfmoon. "It's many fire departments, but one family."
All the food for the breakfast was donated by the community, so any proceeds from the breakfast will be pure profit for the department and, in turn, the Ayotte family. Members of the family requested not to be interviewed Sunday.