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Firefighters rally behind family of one of their own

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Capt. Michael Johnson, Deputy Chief Jonathan Jones and Battalion Commander Robert Pegram all know one thing after working with fellow Clarendon County firefighter Joshua Bryant. They know that if they were in his situation, he'd do whatever he can to help. Bryant's son with his wife, Ashley, was born June 27 with hypoplastic left heart syndrome. Little Banks Bryant is today a month old, but his parents have yet to hold him. His undeveloped heart and the multiple surgeries he will need won't let them. "We know that if we were in his same situation, he'd be the first out there trying to help," Jones said last week at The Manning Times office. Bryant's brothers-in-firefighting have come together to plan several upcoming events that they hope will raise the much-needed funds for both the Bryant family and the baby's ongoing medical care at the Medical University of South Carolina hospital in Charleston. "He's technically had two surgeries already," said Johnson. "The first was open heart surgery not long after he was born. The second was an emergency surgery on his bowels. They're waiting for the next surgery, which really should've been the first but they couldn't do it quite yet." "It's going to be a long road for the family," Jones said. "They're going to be away from home quite a bit. They can't stay in the hospital with the baby, so they have to stay somewhere." Right now, the Bryants and their older daughter, 3-year-old Addison, are staying at the Ronald McDonald House. "They can only stay there for four weeks, and then they'll have to go somewhere else," Johnson said.

At home, friend Cassie Hardy has been looking for items for the family's household, so the couple don't have to worry when they get home about food, toiletries or housewares. "We're looking at their more immediate needs," Johnson said. "Right now, this family that was living off three incomes is now down to one. They're both hourly in the other two jobs, so they're not working and not getting paid. Josh's salary with the fire department is the only thing they're living off of." To help him with the time missed from work, Johnson's brethren have been donating their time. Volunteer firefighters who get quarterly stipends to cover mileage have also been agreeing to donate those funds back to the family. "A good many of our volunteers are donating that money," Jones said. Bryant himself set up a fundraising site with GoFundMe where one can donate. See Thursday's Manning Times for more.        

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