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Raleigh parents meet firefighters who saved son

September 12, 2018

The Greater Raleigh Chamber of Commerce on Tuesday honored first responders in Wake County for going above and beyond the call of duty, highlighting moments of bravery on the 17th anniversary of Sept. 11. WRAL’s David Crabtree emceed the event, which was sponsored by WRAL.

Four Raleigh firefighters were honored for helping save a man from a house fire in 2017. WRAL invited the family to the breakfast to thank the firefighters in person for their bravery.

“Being able to physically say thank you to them meant the world to me,” said Stephen Lewdanowski, who woke up with his wife, Karen, the night of Sept. 4, 2017, and saw their home was engulfed in flames. “We were looking for them for over a year and couldn’t find them.”

When Capt. Bryan Grisel’s team from Raleigh’s Fire Station No. 8 arrived, firefighters found the Lewdanowskis’ 42-year-old son, Mark, and saved him.

“It feels great to be able to help someone to that magnitude and bring a child back to them that might have been gone,” Grisel said. “It’s a great feeling to have.”

The Lewdanowskis’ 43-year-old son, John, died.

There were hugs and tears as the firefighters came down from the stage after receiving their awards and met the couple for the first time.

WRAL partnered with Hardee’s to provide free meals to first-responders on Tuesday.

Robert Johnson, a paramedic with Wake County EMS, said that while first-responders don’t do their jobs for praise, many appreciate the thanks.

He said organizations have held strategic meetings to plan for Hurricane Florence.

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