When it comes to helping others, Rick Grandinetti has shown he won’t hesitate.
A 20-year member of the Bradford Township Volunteer Fire Department and a dispatcher with the county for over a decade, Grandinetti is also a member and past president of the Kinzua Chapter of ABATE (Alliance of Bikers Aimed Toward Education). On Saturday, this community will have a chance to show their support in return.
In July, Grandinetti received a life-altering diagnosis: stage 4 hard palate cancer, which has led to surgery to remove his hard palate and the top left half of his jaw. That surgery, ironically, was done on Sept. 11, a day when we honor the sacrifice of NYC firefighters and first responders during the terrorist attacks of 9/11/01.
Tragedy and family were two main drives that led Grandinetti to join the fire department. He explained that his nephew was killed in a car accident on June 2, 1998. By the end of that month, Grandinetti joined Lafayette Township Volunteer Fire Department, where he remained a member until December 1998. At that time, he joined Bradford Township, where he recently was recognized as a life member with 20 years of service.
“My brother-in-law, Terry Brinker, was a member of Lafayette Township,” Grandinetti said. “He is one of the main reasons I joined.”
Brinker remains dedicated to firefighting as well, as he currently works as a Bradford City firefighter.
Grandinetti has held several positions during his time with the Bradford Township VFD, including vice-president, safety officer and, most recently, Fire Police Captain.
When asked what he enjoys about the work he does, he explained, “I like fundraising, because you work together with other firemen. I like helping people in need.”
After several years with the fire department, Grandinetti made the decision to pursue work as a McKean County 911 dispatcher.
“I knew I wasn’t going to work as a paid firefighter, so I decided to become a dispatcher, where I would have the best of all three worlds — police, fire and ambulance,” he explained.
Following more than 700 hours of training, Grandinetti began work as a dispatcher. Since then, he has spent time each year on continuing education for both dispatching and firefighting. He is also an active EMT.
When he wasn’t working or helping at the fire station, Grandinetti found other ways to continue helping within the community. He has spent several Thanksgiving holidays helping hand out meals for the less fortunate. Meanwhile, as part of the Kinzua Chapter of ABATE, he participates in events like the Homeless Vets Ride and Christmas for Kids.
“We raise money to give it away,” he explained.
He has been married to his wife, Suzanne, for 26 years. They have two children; Cole, 24, and Deven, 19.
In the coming months, Grandinetti’s treatment will continue with chemotherapy, which will be done in Pittsburgh through the VA. Grandinetti is also a veteran of the United States Marine Corps.
To help the family with the fight ahead, a benefit and Chinese auction will be held at 1 p.m. on Saturday at the VFW on 94 Barbour St. Funds raised will go to assist Grandinetti and his family with medical bills and travel expenses.
The event will include a Chinese auction, live music, a 50/50 drawing, and regular, specialty and gun raffles, as well as a $10 chicken barbecue dinner. Admission is $5.
Monetary donations are also welcome. Arrangements can be made to pick-up donations or they can be mailed to 52 Susquehanna Rd., P.O. Box 89, Custer City, PA 16725.