Six-year-old Henry is a regular at his local firehouses around the Asheville area. He has always been fascinated with firemen and all the tools they use to keep the public safe. When he isn’t visiting a station in person, he’s busy playing with his fire trucks and reading book about firemen. Henry thought he had seen it all, until he saw the Marine 1 Fireboat 343 residing in New York City in a magazine. This happened to occur around the same time Henry had been offered a wish through Make-A-Wish Central and Western North Carolina.
Henry was born with a condition called Cartilage Hair Hypoplasia. It is a bone growth disorder that results in dwarfism and severe immune deficiencies. Treatment involved a bone marrow transplant to help rebuild his immune system, which Henry received at Duke Children’s Hospital in 2010.
Although Henry’s wish was to see the Fireboat in action, the Brooklyn NYFD was not going to let him come visit without becoming an honorary member of their department. He was given his own uniform complete with helmet and sworn in at their headquarters and given his first badge. Henry and his family were given VIP treatment around the firehouse, with a behind the scenes tour which even included a lift to the top of the firehouse on the bucket in their ladder truck! Henry got to test out the equipment by sliding down the fire pole and manning the fire hose, where he may have pranked some of his new brethren by shooting them with the hose.
All of this lead up to the real reason they came to New York City. Henry finally got to see a real fire boat! He and his family admired the boat from the station from above before getting the chance to board. This was his chance to learn how this boat worked, and he wasn’t leaving until he found out what every button and handle did. Satisfied and feeling like a pro, Henry and his parents made their way back to the firehouse for cake and a real firehouse dinner. Henry’s week in New York City wasn’t quite over. His family opted for a few extra excursions to visit Central Park, the Statue of Liberty and what trip would be complete without a visit to the iconic FAO Schwartz toy store?
Henry’s granted wish gave him a great memory that he will remember for many years to come. He loves to refer back to the pictures from his wish, think about all the fun he had, and talk about it to his family. Since his wish day, Henry has made a full recovery from his transplant. He is able to attend school again, take Tae-kwon-do classes, and participate in other activities like any other six-year-old boys.
His connection with Make-A-Wish didn’t end after his wish. “This wish experience was a huge blessing for our whole family. The fun-filled trip was much needed relief from the heavy, scary medical crisis we had faced together,” says wish dad Adam recounting the trip to New York City. Adam was so moved by the wish experience, he decided to take part in our annual Trailblaze Challenge. Adam took part in the Spring 2014 trip to the Bartram Trail to hike 24.1 miles in one life-changing day. His training spanned over four months, building up endurance and distance with each passing week. The day of the hike was filled with love and support for Adam and nostalgia for a trip that meant so much to this family.