The Winter Park community is coming together to look after one of its own: Division Chief Jimm Walsh of the Winter Park Fire-Rescue Department.
The firefighter suffered a hemorrhagic stroke earlier this month.
“Just as recently as this morning, I was able to visit with Jimm,” Fire Chief Jim White said at the Winter Park City Commission’s Aug. 14 meeting. “As most of you are aware, Chief Walsh suffered a hemorrhagic stroke last Wednesday morning in a staff meeting in our station and was immediately treated and transported to Florida South, where within 20 minutes, he was in the CT and out.”
Doctors located the problem and performed surgery.
“He has the best opportunity for a complete recovery,” White said. “He’s working through recovering — they’re determining where and what they’re going to do with regards to physical therapy, etc.”
But it didn’t take long for the community to come together to show their support. A GoFundMe page was started by Eric Wheaton of the fire department shortly after the incident to help pay for medical expenses and ongoing physical therapy.
A total of 217 family members, friends and residents have contributed to the page, raising $50,118 in a 13-day span as of Friday afternoon.
A tribute to Walsh also has been set up in city hall for residents to sign and write messages.
“Keeping you in our thoughts and prayers,” Jill Hamilton Buss wrote. “Wishing you a full and speedy recovery.”
“Stay strong and get better every day,” Cindy Giles wrote. “We need you back at the city! My prayers and support are with you and your family. God bless you!”
The support from the residents has been overwhelming, White said.
“It’s obviously a very shocking and very serious condition that he experienced,” he said. “We appreciate all the help. The Winter Park community has again been amazing. I’ve been inundated with offers of whatever. Trust me: We will be back in touch with you all at some point in time. This is a marathon, not a sprint. We want to get Jimm back where he can be with his family and his children and as productive in everything as he possibly can be under the circumstances.”
Jimm began his career with the Winter Park Fire-Rescue Department in January 1998. Originally serving as a fire inspector, he rose through the ranks of firefighter, engineer, captain, and into his current position as division chief. Prior to being promoted to division chief, he served as a union officer in Local 1598.
He has instructed numerous classes across the nation and has served as the fire officer program manager and special operations and truck company instructor for the Central Florida Fire Academy.