For the people who work with them at the North Madison Volunteer Fire Company and the Madison Ambulance service, there's one way to describe Amanda and Chris Bernier.
“They're always the first ones to reach out and help anybody in the community,” said Brandon Stowe, Deputy Director of Madison Ambulance.
Now the community is coming together to help them. The couple just found out they are expecting their first child, but in the midst of all the excitement, Amanda Bernier was also diagnosed with ALS, or Lou Gehrig's Disease.
“This is a debilitating disease that robs a person of the ability to use their muscles, so in Amanda's case, she's been diagnosed with a very aggressive form, and in a matter of weeks she's gone from a very active firefighter and runner to being in a wheelchair,” said Eric Alletzhauser with the North Madison Volunteer Fire Company.
Friends say there's a chance that Amanda Bernier may not even live to see her child, but the couple is focused on keeping the baby healthy and helping Amanda get through each day. To do that, friends, neighbors and coworkers have been pitching in to help. They've already built a wheelchair ramp outside the couple's house and are working on renovations inside, too.
“We need financial support. We're trying to get a van for her. She can no longer drive, so we're trying to get a wheelchair-type van for her. And the medical bills are starting to come in,” said Bob Blundon with the North Madison Volunteer Fire Department.
They've started a "Go Fund Me" page for Amanda's Angels. The goal is to raise $250,000. Nearly $45,000 has already been raised.
“People have been so supportive, everybody in the whole community. But a lot of that also comes back to Chris and Amanda because they've been so supporting in everything they do in this community,” said Blundon.