PEARL RIVER COUNTY, Miss. (WLOX) - Fifteen fire trucks representing nearly every municipality and volunteer fire department in Pearl River County showed up outside the window of Jim Dischinger.
Dischinger has been an active member of the firefighter community in Pearl River County for many years. However, now Dischinger is fighting a new fight. Dischinger recently battled COVID-19, winning after a two-week stint in the hospital.
“He was a normal functioning 70-something-year-old who was on our fire board with the Southeast Volunteer Fire Department, he was on Carriere Fire Board and he was also on the Center Water Association Board. Full of life, totally normal functioning individual and got sick and progressed rapidly to, you know, being in a nursing home basically and bedridden,” said Southeast Volunteer Fire Department Chief Tony Scharenbroch.
Dischinger has also been battling Parkinson’s disease and dementia. He’s now receiving treatment in a nursing home where he is unable to see or have physical contact with those who love him most.
Scharenbroch and others close to Dischinger planned a parade to show him support while still abiding by those social distancing guidelines.
Chief Scharenbroch, who has known Dischinger since the late ’90s, wasn’t sure if his old friend would recognize him.
“We were concerned that he may not even understand what was happening, but seeing his response and talking with his family, he did. He understood,” Scharenbroch said. “You know, he was giving us a thumbs up. He was holding on to one of his fire hats, you know, showing us his fire hat and, you know, it was a good experience.”
Scharenbroch, Dischinger’s wife Theresa, and others closest to him went to his window after the parade with signs of support. Dischinger’s nurses reported back to Theresa that having people simply show uplifted his spirits in a big way.
“The nursing staff told her that after the event he was more responsive, more aware of his surroundings. He hasn’t been eating or drinking, and so he actually after the event starting drinking some fluids," Scharenbroch said. "He had a positive response to our parade.”
Scharenbroch said through the years, Dischinger was able to use his business savvy to help the firefighting community cut through red tape. Now, that community is grateful to have played a part in returning the favor.
“It was a really small thing to do, but it seemed like it had a really big impact," he said.
Theresa and Jim will have been married for 50 years on May 19.