GOLDEN VALLEY, Minn. (FOX 9) - A longtime firefighter in the Twin Cities Metro has lost his battle with cancer.
Josh Richardson was diagnosed with stage 4 cancer a few months before he died and leaves behind a wife and two kids, ages 11 and 9, according to a GoFundMe page set up to pay for his medical costs.
Richardson's friend, Curtis Smith, set up the GoFundMe account shortly after Richardson was diagnosed in April.
Smith said shortly before his death, Richardson was on a trip to Mexico with his wife and had to be flown back to Minnesota in a private jet as his health was declining.
Smith called Richardson a "wonderful man" who "did everything for everyone."
Friend and firefighter Steve Baker says, "It's as if his only goal in life was to get up every day and say 'How I can make others better?' He was truly a giver."
Known for his infectious smile and always wanting to help, Josh Richardson is described as the kind of person others strive to be. Now his longtime friend and fellow firefighters stare at Richardson's locker at the Golden Valley Fire Station in disbelief.
In addition to being a husband and father of two young kids, Richardson worked full-time for CenturyLink and 14 years as a paid on-call firefighter with Golden Valley.
In March, a nagging pain in Richardson's back, followed by some nausea, prompted him to go the doctor. At 46 years old, he was diagnosed with a form of stage 4 colon cancer.
"It's tragic on many levels, he left way too early," says Golden Valley Chief John Crelly.
His firefighting family rallied around him as best they could. Friday, he was rushed home from a final attempt at treatment in Mexico. From his stretcher, Richardson could see Golden Valley police, fire and others with vehicle lights flashing and a crowd gathered to welcome him home for his final days.
"We were told we weren't going to see him," recalled Baker. "When they pulled Josh out, they said no, you take me to my people."
According to Richardson's GoFundMe page, he was also a 7-year veteran of the U.S. Navy.
Plymouth Covenant Church is also raising funds for the family through this website.