Steve Baum overcomes adversity to serve community as a volunteer firefighter, police captain

Published: Feb. 4, 2020 at 12:16 PM EST
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Just 10 miles from Findlay, Ohio is a small town called Vanlue. That's where you'll find the Fighting 600 Firehouse where a half dozen firefighters volunteer to save lives.

"At any given moment," says volunteer firefighter, Ross Wentling, "we get pulled from our families and family events to help people we don't even know."

Some of the men working at the station pull double duty as Vanlue Volunteer Firefighters and University of Findlay Police Officers. Steve Baum is one of them. In addition to his job as the University of Findlay Police Captain, Baum also serves as Assistant Chief of the firehouse.

In 2009, Baum had surgery on his neck to fix a softball injury. Little did he know, his life would never be the same.

"When you walk into the hospital to have surgery and then you can't walk out ..." Baum begins before saying, "I've been active all my life. I played softball, played three sports in high school and then you can't ... It makes you step back and really think and it was a tough one but one day I said 'You're not going to get better just sitting.'"

Baum has paralysis on his right side but he doesn't let it slow him down. He works out every day and pushes through pain so he can be there when his community needs him most. It's the reason he was nominated for 13abc's First Responder of the Week.

"There are a lot of people that do this job," says Baum, struggling to hold back tears. "I'm just one of them and I would love to be able to share it with everybody."

"He still has some physical difficulties ¬- pain daily - but he won't let it get him down," says his girlfriend Karen, who nominated him for the honor. "He's a hero; a lifesaver."

His fellow firefighters agree.

"Great example of perseverance," says Wentling. "And what he goes through on a daily basis, it makes you realize that if he can get up every day, I can get up and go through life."

"Everybody is faced with adversities, challenges, setbacks," says Baum, who leads by example. "It's just how you handle that and how you let it control you, and if you don't, you win."

Baum says it's how you face challenges and how you react to them that will determine the life you can live. He doesn't feel sorry for himself. He feels blessed to have the will and drive to move forward.

"It is what it is," he says. "I am very blessed to do what I do every day, and I love going to work, I love doing this, and I hope to do it for a long time. A long time."