The Little Firefighter

>> Monday, September 26, 2011

This story is from 1981 … a story of the first child to be helped by the Make-A-Wish Foundation. That Foundation made contact with the Phoenix Fire Department to fulfill Bopsy’s wish.  

In Phoenix, AZ a 26-year old mother stared down at her son who was dying of terminal leukemia. Although her heart was filled with sadness, she also had a strong feeling of determination. Like any parent, she wanted her son to grow up and fulfill all his dreams. Now that was no longer possible. She took her son’s hand and asked, “Bopsy, did you ever think about what you wanted to be when you grew up?” 

“I always wanted to be a fireman.”  

Mom smiled and said, “Let’s see if we can make your wish come true.”  

In her research, she discovered the Make-A-Wish Foundation … who contacted firefighter Bob Walp who was well known to children in Phoenix as “Fireman Bob” on the popular “Wallace and Ladmo” television program. Fireman Bob had a heart as big as Phoenix. She explained her son’s final wish and asked if it might be possible to give her seven-year old son a ride around the block on a fire engine.  

Fireman Bob said,” We can do better than that. If you’ll have your son ready at 7:00 Wednesday morning, we’ll make him an honorary fireman for the whole day He can come down to the fire station and eat with us. If you’ll give us his sizes, we’ll get a real fire uniform for him, with a real fire hat with the emblem of the Phoenix Fire Department on it, a yellow slicker like we wear and rubber boots.”  

Three days later, Fireman Bob picked up Bopsy, dressed him in his fire uniform and escorted him from his hospital bed to the waiting hook and ladder truck. Bopsy got to sit on the back of the truck and help steer it back to the fire station, where he got to use a fire hose. The day ended with his being given a firefighter badge.  

Bopsy was in heaven.  

One night all of his vital signs began to drop dramatically and the head nurse, who believed in the hospice concept that no one should die alone, began to call the family members to his bedside. Then she remembered the day Bopsy had spent as a fireman, so she called the Fire Chief and asked if it would be possible to send a fireman in uniform to the hospital to be with Bopsy as he made his transition. The Chief replied,” We can do better than that. We’ll be there in five minutes. Will you please do me a favor? When you hear the sirens screaming and see the lights flashing, will you announce over the PA system that there is not a fire? It’s just the fire department coming to see one of its finest members one more time. And will you open the window to his room?”  

About five minutes later a hook and ladder truck arrived at the hospital and extended its ladder up to Bopsy’s third floor open window. Five firefighters climbed up the ladder and into Bopsy’s room. They hugged him and held him and told him how much they loved him. Bopsy looked up at the fire chief and asked, “Chief, am I really a fireman now?”  

“Bopsy, you are, and the Head Chief, Jesus, is holding your hand.”

 After a visit, prompting some smiles from Bopsy, the firemen left, exiting through the window and down the ladder. Bopsy died later that evening.

“He put a child in the middle of the room. Then, cradling the little one in his arms, he said, "Whoever embraces one of these children as I do embraces me, and far more than me—God who sent me." Mark 9:36-37 (MSG)


Mid Stutsman September 26, 2011 at 6:41 PM  

Beautiful, Joy!! what a blessing to get to know can't get rid of me that easy!! Grin!!
Cya around,

Joy Bach September 26, 2011 at 8:53 PM  

Good evening, Mid. So glad to hear you'll still pop in. Love, Joy

Lisa Mikitarian September 27, 2011 at 6:24 AM  

I'm crying like a big baby--that was so sad yet beautiful--thanks for sharing it, Joy.

Joy Bach September 27, 2011 at 7:20 AM  

Sorry Lisa. It sure touched me.

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