DALLAS (CBSDFW.COM) – From his hospital bed at UT Southwestern’s St. Paul University Hospital in Dallas, Randy Potter looks over at his helmet. It’s got the number 479 on it and it’s the one he uses when he’s fighting fires.

“The guys from the station brought my helmet as incentive to get well and get back to work because they miss me,” says Potter.  “It gives me strength to look over there and know even though I’m not there I’m still part of the team.”

Potter, 36, is a Southlake Firefighter and paramedic and battling a rare kidney disease.

He’s been a firefighter for 15 years, and at Southlake since 2009.  “We are family and it’s the greatest career on earth,” says Potter “We help people.”

He was diagnosed in February.  “It’s genetic.  No known cause of why or how. It just happened.”

His brothers and sisters at the department are doing what they can to help with his medical expenses.  They’ve made T-shirts with his number on it, and are working on several benefits.

“All the Firefighters in Southlake started working his shift so he would be able to stay on and wouldn’t have to go on Short Term Disability,” says Ryan Sessums, President of the Southlake Firefighters Association. “It keeps him on duty so he can still have insurance benefits.”

Sessums says three months of Randy’s shifts have been filled so far.  Already he’s gotten plasma treatments and will soon start chemotherapy.

“It’s very humbling to wake up one day and not know if you are going to see the next one,” says Potter.

He says his faith is what’s gotten him through everything and he appreciates all the prayers, “Whoever is out there praying for me, I appreciate it so much.  Don’t stop,  that’s all I ask.”

He admits it’s been hard not to be at work and that he misses his firefighting family.

“Right now I feel lost,  I feel empty because I’m not out helping people,” says Potter “It’s just a minor step.  I’ll be back.”

To help raise money for Potter and his family T-shirts are available for $20.00 and can be purchased at both Southlake Fire stations.

All the profits will go to Randy.

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