As part of their 24-hour work shifts twice a week, Bob Gillman and Scott DeVault essentially live together.
Working for Medix Ambulance Services in Delavan for the past five years, they make breakfast together. They do chores together.
They’re like brothers.
“He’s just a phenomenal person to be around. We have a lot of fun,” said DeVault, a paramedic.
“He’s family now.”
In separate interviews, they both said the other would give someone the shirt off his back.
They also both used the word “shock” to describe what they felt upon hearing Gillman had prostate cancer.
Gillman, the 54-year-old EMT who lives in Burlington, was doing laundry with his girlfriend when he got the call from a doctor about two months ago.
“My eyes kind of filled up with tears,” he said. “Because it’s like, ‘Holy crap. Now what?’”
He’s the father of two and grandfather of three. He has what DeVault called “the personality that everybody adores.”
Gillman gave DeVault the news when they were in an ambulance together, and DeVault said he became “sick to (his) stomach.”
DeVault tossed and turned at night thinking about how Gillman wasn’t sure how to pay for his treatment. How could he help his friend? How could he make this easier for the guy who his twins call “Uncle Bob,” who surprised them after their birth with clothes?
He just wanted to help.
So DeVault turned to the community for financial support.
“Bob has saved hundreds and served thousands and has never asked for anything in return!” DeVault wrote in a GoFundMe post. “Please let’s finally return the favor and help him out any way possible with any donation you can give!”
By Saturday afternoon, the fundraiser had brought in $4,775 toward its $6,500 goal.
Being an EMT is not really a high-paying job.
“We live off of overtime,” DeVault said, adding they average about 10 to 15 extra hours each week.
Gillman was always someone who would only see the doctor for his annual physicals or if he was “extremely sick.” Knowing this, he typically selected the less comprehensive insurance plan from his work.
But now he said this means his out-of-pocket costs are about $6,500. The shot he has to take every few months costs roughly $2,000, and there are other costs for procedures such as a CT scan and a bone scan.
He thought he would need to work extra hours, but the treatment was supposed to zap his energy and make him more tired. And what about the work he would have to miss for appointments?
He was stressed.
But it’s that feeling DeVault wanted to help take away. So he set up the GoFundMe and showed it to Gillman, who said thank you, started to tear up and gave his partner, friend and brother a hug.
Gillman knew his own family would support him, but other than that he didn’t really expect others to go out of their way for him.
“But as far as Scotty going above and beyond to do something like this, was just, it was amazing,” he said.
Today, Gillman feels fine. He has noticed that he yawns a lot. Some days, he just doesn’t have much energy.
But at the same time, getting to comfort and treat people animates him.
Before his time as an EMT and his 20 years as a volunteer firefighter, Gillman was the kind of guy who stopped at car accidents to make sure people were OK.
He didn’t realize that could be part of a job; he just wanted to help.
“I call it my job, but to me it’s … it’s not a job, it’s something that I like doing,” he said. “It’s something that I love to do.”
DeVault said it’s “incredible” to see how much has already been donated.
“It just goes to show you,” he said. “The support for Bob, how much he’s impacted other people.”
One woman who donated money stood out to Gillman. She commented that she didn’t know him personally, but she knew his kids.
She just wanted to help.
“Some of this stuff is so touching, when people write stuff like that,” Gillman said. “It’s amazing.”