SACRAMENTO -- When Don Ban wasn’t in a helmet and his firefighting turn-outs, he was usually in a classic car and a Hawaiian shirt.
And that’s how those closest to him honored him today.
“He got to thinking about it and he told everybody, ‘I really want Hawaiian music, I want a luau, I want a party. I don’t Want everyone sitting around crying," Bev Ban, Don's wife, said.
Don Ban passed away earlier this month after his final fight, a battle with pancreatic cancer.
It was his second bout with cancer since retiring after 30 years as a Sacramento fire fighter.
“We thought he was safe when his career ended and retirement years were here. And it’s like, ‘Hey, happy days.’ And then all of the sudden this other boot dropped and its like, wow," Bev Ban said.
Bev Ban says the cancer is no coincidence; rather, it’s an occupational hazard for fire fighters who are 14 percent more likely to die from the disease.
We spoke to Don Ban in the last days of his life, and he was troubled that the City of Sacramento had denied his workers compensation claim even though he believed the disease had followed him from fire fighting into retirement.
"Sucking up smoke goes with the job. You blow your nose and black stuff come out for two days," Don Ban said.
Still, by law, the City of Sacramento was allowed to deny his claim because he’d been retired for more than 10 years.=
Today, Bev Ban has a message of health and occupational safety for all fire fighters.
"Protect these kids that are coming into it. We’re going to always have fire fighters, there’s always going to be police officers. There’s always going to be public servants. It’s our duty to save those lives and protect them, like they save ours," Bev Ban.
If you'd like to help the Ban family you can visit their GOFundMe page by clicking here.