Chief Orkies was diagnosed with cancer in September before he came down with COVID-19 in early November. Photo courtesy of Zoneton Fire Protection District.
SHEPHERDSVILLE, Ky. — Roughly 91,000 lights shone brightly from Zoneton Fire Protection District's ruby red engine Thursday night, but the light at the front that displayed "8101 Strong" may have shined the brightest. The phrase has been the district's rallying cry for Chief Robert Orkies.

After being diagnosed with Cancer in October, Orkies came down with COVID-19 in early November. 

“It is important and means a whole lot more because our Chief Rob Orkies is in the hospital fighting for his life,” said Capt. Steven Corbin.

The hashtag and light display are a tribute to the brotherhood Zoneton has. 

“We are a brotherhood, and you know, normal day, no one fights alone is our slogan,” Corbin said. “The chief is in there fighting alone because of the pandemic and it is tough."

The Santa Fire Truck is Orkies' favorite event since the holidays are his favorite time of year. He was still planning to put on the event during the summer and early fall, knowing what it would mean for the children and families they serve.

A closer look at the Santa Fire Truck.

“He wanted to make sure the event still happened because it has a big impact on the community, everyone looks forward to it,” Corbin said.

Before Santa hopped on his sleigh atop the fire engine, a small prayer service was held as the family and department family came together to dedicate the first of 11 nights to their brother and leader.

“We are driving for prayers to get him better and get him home,” Corbin said.