Am I a Fireman Yet?

I recently attended a Poddi networking meeting, which, always proves to be an inspiring and energetic occasion.

At the end of this particular meeting, Roger Lamb – our Business Coach – shared a rather special story with us. As it happens, I think it was a good thing that he left the story until the end of the meeting rather than doing his regular Education Slot early on.  I don’t think there was a dry eye in the room by the time he finished reading ‘Am I a Fireman Yet?’

This story was so, incredibly, moving that I just had to share it with you, so, here it is;

Am I a Fireman YetIn Queensland , Australia , a 26-year-old mother stared down at her 6 year old Son, who was dying of terminal leukaemia. 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 & fulfil
all his dreams.

Now that was no longer possible. The leukaemia would see to that. But she still wanted her son’s dream to come true.

She took her son’s hand and asked, “Ben, did you ever think about what you Wanted to be once you grew up? Did you ever dream and wish what you would do with your life?”

“Mummy, I always wanted to be a fireman when I grew up.” said Ben.

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

Later that day she went to her local fire Station in Brisbane , where she met Fireman Bob, who had a heart as big as Queensland. She explained her son’s final wish and asked if it might be possible to give Her 6 year old son a ride around the block on a fire engine.

Fireman Bob said, “Look, we can do better than that. If you’ll have your son ready at seven o’clock Wednesday morning, we’ll make him an  honorary fireman for the whole day. He can come down to the fire station, eat with us, go out on all the fire Calls, the full Monty! And if you’ll give us his sizes, we’ll get a real fire uniform for him, with A real fire hat – not a toy -one with the emblem of the Queensland Fire & Rescue Department on it, a yellow slicker like we wear and rubber boots. They’re all manufactured right here in Brisbane , so we can get them fast.”

Am I a Fireman Yet? A Brisbane Fire EngineThree days later Fireman Bob picked up Ben, dressed him in his uniform and Escorted him from his hospital bed to the waiting truck. Ben got to sit on the back of the truck and help steer it back to the fire Station. He was in heaven. There were three fire calls in Brisbane that day and Ben got to go out on all three calls. He rode in the different fire engines and was, also, videotaped for the local news program.

Having his dream come true, with all the Love and attention that was lavished upon him, so deeply touched Ben, that he lived three months longer than any doctor thought possible.

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 the hospital. Then she remembered the day Ben had spent as a fireman, so she called the Fire Station and asked if it would be possible to send a fireman in uniform To the hospital to be with Ben as he made his transition. The Officer in charge replied;

“We can do better than that. We’ll be there in five minutes. Will you please do me a favour? When you hear the sirens screaming and see The lights flashing, will you announce over the PA system, that there’s not A fire? It’s the Fire Department coming to see one of its finest members one more time. And will you open the window to his room?”

Am I a Fireman Yet? - Firemen Climbing a LadderAbout five minutes later a hook and ladder truck arrived at the hospital and Extended its ladder up to Ben’s third floor open window.
16 fire-fighters climbed up the ladder into Ben’s room. With his mother’s permission, they hugged him and held him and told him how Much they LOVED him.

With his dying breath, Ben looked up at the fire chief and said, ‘Chief, am I really a fireman now?’

“Ben, you are – and the Head Chief, Jesus, is holding your hand,” the Officer in Charge Said.

With those words, Ben smiled and said, “I know, He’s been holding my hand all day, and the angels have been singing.” He closed his eyes one last time.

Oh, and one more thing – just in case you were wondering.

I did a little research on the story, just to find out whether it was true or not. You never know about these things, do you? Well, thanks to the wonder that is the internet, it would appear that the story has been around for many years and is, very much, based on fact.

Am I a Fireman Yet? - The Make a Wish Foundation  make a dying childs' wishes come trueThe young boy, Ben, in the story is based on 7-year-old Frank Salazar (his family called him “Bopsy”) and he was the first child to be helped by the Make-A-Wish Foundation, an organization that fulfils the wishes of children with life-threatening illness.  The story is from 1981.

It was Make-A-Wish that made the contact with the Phoenix Fire Department (not Brisbane) as a part of one of three wishes that Bopsy had.  Make-A-Wish contacted firefighter Bob Walp who was well known to children in Phoenix as “Fireman Bob” on the popular “Wallace and Ladmo” television program. You can read the Make a Wish Foundation’s own account of the story here.

Incidentally, Ben’s other two wishes were to visit Disneyland and to ride in a hot-air balloon.  Apparently, all of his wishes were fulfilled.

This story is so powerful and there are ‘no strings’ attached.  Uplifting stories are one of the best gifts we receive. There’s no cost, but there are a lot of rewards. Let’s continue to uplift one another!!!

Please share this ‘Am I a Fireman Yet?’ with your network and leave any comments you may have, below.

Kindest regards,

Steve Bimpson

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