Firefighter battling cancer passes torch to son in emotional ceremony

A third-generation firefighter is getting a chance to continue his father's legacy.
A third-generation firefighter is getting a chance to continue his father's legacy.(Photo courtesy HCA Midwest Health)
Published: Nov. 15, 2023 at 10:29 PM CST
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LEE’S SUMMIT, Mo. (KCTV) - A longtime Kansas City firefighter is in his final battle. John Parison recently learned he has stage-four cancer.

His son, John Parison IV, is a third-generation firefighter, about to graduate from the academy in December.

“It was his dream to pin his son next month at the big graduation ceremony for the class we have in the academy right now,” said Kansas City Fire Chief Michael Hopkins.

So, they decided to do a special pinning ceremony in the hospital.

“It was great, a little sadness mixed in there,” Parson IV said. “You walk out there, pass the row of nurses, and you see the small room filled with 100-150 people all there to see us do the ceremony.”

Parison IV even got his father’s badge number, which was also his grandfather’s.

“It’s really cool, being third generation, it’s great,” Parison IV said.

But the ceremony didn’t end there. Parison IV then pinned his father, as he was promoted to captain in his final days.

“It was phenomenal to see John get promoted to captain,” Hopkins said. “He was next on the list, and we actually had a few spots open up, some chiefs retiring, and we were able to make that happen for him before he passes away.”

Hopkins said it’s an honor to promote Parison in his final days but said the emotions from it all are two-fold.

“We have that grief that’s setting in that we are going to lose our friend, but it was also satisfying at the same time to see him be able to pin his son and welcome him to the fire department to carry on his legacy,” Hopkins said.

A strong legacy that he instilled in his children and is certainly felt by the community and beyond.

“Growing up, he always told me that his job was to always leave a mark, and his job was to leave a legacy for his name, and I see it happening right now,” said daughter Cheyenne Parison.

Paison has certainly left his mark on the Kansas City Fire Department.

“Courage, honor, respect, knowledge, and love,” said Hopkins. “He just wanted to help people, to teach people.