Retired Surrey fire captain Randy Piticco is having one of his best weeks in a long time since being diagnosed with terminal cancer.
That’s because his wife, Marilyn Piticco, founder of Langley Community Support Groups Society (formerly the Stroke Recovery Group), threw him a surprise birthday party like no other — one that warmed his heart and hers.
On the Piticcos’ wedding anniversary in July, they were given the devastating news that Randy’s cancer had metastasized.
In the midst of intense chemotherapy, Marilyn knew he would be too sick to have a birthday party, but she wanted to do something to celebrate the love of her life’s 61st birthday.
Soon, Marilyn found herself knocking on doors, talking with neighbours she and Randy got to know well over the years. She asked them if they could join her on her lawn at 2:30 p.m. on Sunday, Oct. 4 to sing Happy Birthday to Randy. She texted and called some family and friends as well.
One of the neighbours she invited was Meghan Glipps, a 22-year-old BCIT broadcasting graduate who grew up with the Piticcos as neighbours.
She decided not only would she come over to sing her heart out to Randy, she would document the whole birthday on film and give them a copy.
“We had no idea that she would do such a thing for us and she stayed up till 3 a.m. that night working on it so she could surprise us with it,” said Marilyn.
“Words cannot express what we are feeling, and no one could have captured our special day better that she did.”
Glipps posted the birthday surprise on YouTube. The unique birthday touched people’s hearts and now the video has gone viral with Marilyn being interviewed on radio, TV and in print.
In the video, Marilyn brings Randy outside to see more than 50 friends, family and neighbours in his front yard, holding balloons, signs, cards and a cake, while singing to him. Many stuck around after to sneak in a hug and a have word with the fire captain.
“I was going to watch football all day,” Randy says on the video. “This is so much better.”
Township firefighters working at the nearby fire hall popped by as well.
“Randy has had the best week this past week, probably in the last five months. He is touched by everyone being interested in his story and especially with the messages from as far away as Ottawa and U.S.,” said Marilyn.
“People he doesn’t know saying thank you for his service and calling him a hero. He is my hero, that is for sure.”
Through it all, Pittico continues to lead her stroke recovery group every week. She has dedicated more than 20 years to helping stroke patients recover in Langley.
“It helps me to keep some things in our life the same with so many other things changing so much,” she said.
To view the Youtube video look under “Birthday surprise for firefighter”.