Chantelle Bacon believes her son Mason would be proud of her for choosing to go back to St. Clair College and train to become a firefighter.
In 2014, Bacon graduated from the Hairstylist program at St. Clair College. Still, her life took a dramatic turn when her two-year-old son Mason was diagnosed with a rare form of childhood cancer called rhabdomyosarcoma. After 14 months of treatment, Mason, unfortunately, passed away at the young age of four. As a tribute to their son, Chantelle and her husband, Iain started the Fight Like Mason Foundation. They began engaging with the community by launching fundraising events and public appearances at hospitals dressed as superheroes.
With generous support from the community, the Fight Like Mason Foundation began donating superhero themed IV poles and pediatric wheelchairs with Mason's superhero logo to Windsor Regional Hospital.
In the past five years, the Fight Like Mason Foundation has donated 370 IV-poles to 14 hospitals in Ontario and raised over $1.8M to support research for childhood cancer. St. Clair College recognized Bacon as one of the Alumni of Distinction honourees in 2019 for her dedicated work as the Co-Founder of the Fight Like Mason Foundation.
At age 32, Chantelle said it was an easy decision to return to the College to enroll in the Pre-Service Firefighter program and embrace the challenge of pursuing a new career.
"My Mom was a paramedic, so I have always been around first responders, and I have always loved that line of work but never knew if I could do it," she said. "With everything that went on with Mason and how amazing the fire community was and still is to this day, it was a no-brainer for me to want to be part of this team."
Chantelle admits there is a significant physical component to the Pre-Service Firefighter program.
"It's tough physically. I thought I was in the best shape, but you get humbled very quickly," Chantelle said. "There are a lot of different muscles that you use in the fire service. Physically, I have been able to do things I never thought I'd be able to do."
Chantelle believes she and her classmates benefit from training in an actual fire hall, the former Windsor Fire & Rescue Services Station No. 5 at 1905 Cabana Rd W. The College purchased the vacated Firehall to house its Pre-Service Firefighter Education and Training program in 2021.
"It's an advantage having the fire hall here. It's incredible, and it's nice to be in that atmosphere of a real fire hall. My eyes have opened so much to what firefighters do, and it's not just running into burning buildings. Many other things go into being a firefighter, and I hope to one day join a team full-time."
Chantelle believes Mason would be proud of her for pursuing a career as a firefighter.
"I hope he would be proud of me. His biggest thing in life was to be a firefighter; that was his number one thing. He showed me what I could do and what I was able to do. I know he is with me every day, and I hope he is proud of me."
For more information about the Fight Like Mason Foundation, please visit www.fightlikemason.org.
See a recent interview with Chantelle