On Sunday, East Contra Costa firefighters from Station 93 in Oakley invited the Pato family for dinner at the firehouse as a way of saying thank you for cooking for them late last year.
According to Gil Guerrero, fire captain at Station 93, firefighters were stunned when Megan Pato, whom they have provided service calls on in the past on walked in with food she had prepared for them during the community driven meal train.
Pato, who has been receiving treatment since February 2015 for leukemia was sick at the time and used her energy to cook a homemade meal. Pato will continue treatment through May of 2017 and is since doing better.
Guerrero says when they learned more about her story, they were extremely humbled.
“She was bringing the firefighters dinners and it was humbling. When Megan showed up that day and told us her story of traveling to Oakland every day to get treatments for her cancer and all she was going through, we were taken back and she was very inspirational to our crew,” says Guerrero. “Megan is such a positive person and brought a bright light to our station. It made what we were going through seem like nothing and here she is making us dinner. It was the least we can do to return the favor to someone who changed our perspectives on things.”
Pato, who is an Oakley resident and Antioch High School graduate, saw the meal train and immediately signed up making homemade enchiladas and Mexican rice with salad.
Pato admitted when she cooked for the firefighters, she was not feeling the best and had lost her hair and eyebrows due to radiation treatment—she still goes for treatments and tests four times a week.
“I felt like doing a good deed and wanting to give back since they always came to my house when I needed help so I wanted to do something nice for them,” explained Pato. “I thought it would be cool to do something nice for them since they are always helping people in the community. So I thought okay I’ll cook for them.”
She said the meal train was just something she had to do for herself at the time.
“I was so sick, I just had to do something positive and do something good. I needed to do it for me because everyone was always doing things for me so this was my way of giving back. I needed to start with that,” explained Pato. “I didn’t get to eat with them because they had a call, but did get to drop it off and they were excited.”
Today, Pato says she has improved and feels great saying she has a job while going to real estate school. She is also able to work out again. Her goal is to be active and not let her leukemia impact her life as it once did.
Pato says when she heard they invited her and her family to the station, she was excited.
“It made my day, I thought oh my gosh are you serious. That was so cool,” explained Pato. “Then I thought, well I want real fireman food and see how they eat. I heard firemen are good cooks so I am putting them to the test.”
Station 93 firefighters cooked tri-tip, chicken, beans, salad and garlic bread for the Pato family.
Pato says the meal and time with the firefighters further highlighted they made her feel special.
“I think it’s so cool, I feel so special and they gave me a new shirt. It really makes me feel good they invited me because sometimes I do not get to do things because of my sickness that other people have gotten to do and now I get to have dinner with firefighters which not everyone has that opportunity to do. So in a way, I now get to do something that others don’t get to do. Station 93 is the best.”
Guerrero further highlighted that Megan’s positive attitude is contagious and wishes she could stop by every week.
“It was humbling to have her in the station. It was an honor to have her there. Megan is someone who as a parent they can be proud of to have a spirit and attitude like that. Her positive spirit is contagious and she can light up any room with that smile and laugh. She could very easily be a motivational speaker making peoples lives better,” said Guerrero.
Guerrero added that the firefighters from across the district were thankful and humbled for everyone who participated in the meal train and took them time to make them a meal.