Everyone has that one moment in life when they are inspired by something. It happened to one fire captain who was shocked to learn that one child could change his whole life at the precise moment he needed it.
One young boy visited the local fire station in the city, and he changed so many lives that day. These firefighters work hard, and it’s good to know that they are doing something to benefit the world. The child’s note brought tears to everyone’s eyes that day, and it’s a touching story. Continue reading to learn how one boy could help so many.
Meet Jim Grimzer
Jim was born and raised in NYC and continued living in the Big Apple as an adult. In fact, he became the captain of the fire department in NYC because his entire family was firefighters. He enjoyed serving his beloved community.
Dangers of His Job
After taking on this role and knowing how dangerous it was, Jim had to deal with a tragedy. He was now confused and wondered if he should continue firefighting or do something else. Things had hit home for him.
Lost a Good Man
Jim lost one of the men on his team. This team member was young and had only recently started at the fire station. In fact, the captain only met him a handful of times, but he felt responsible for everyone he worked with.
A Tragic Day
Jim felt significant grief because of the young man’s death, and it ate away at him for weeks. He had dug himself a deep hole and couldn’t get out of it. However, a huge change was about to take place for him!
A Special Visit
One day, Jim surprised his team by visiting the scene of a current situation. He often went out and helped, even when he wasn’t really needed. After resolving the problem, they prepared to go back to the fire station.
The NY Fire Department
FDNY has about 10,000 or so firefighters working in different stations throughout the state. Therefore, any of the firefighters could have been stationed at that location, but Jim happened to be at the right time, experiencing something amazing.
A Special Request
A young child came up to Jim and had a special request. This was normal; Jim knew that kids were excited to see the red fire engine. However, he realized immediately that this particular boy wanted something else.
Meeting Trucker Dukes
Trucker Dukes was visiting New York City and had been there for a long time. In fact, he thought it was the best place for what he loved most. However, he never believed that his dream could become a reality!
Trucker was staying at the Ronald McDonald House with his mother. They had been on an outing and were returning home when he saw the NYFD firefighters and got excited. Then, he found the captain and had to say hello.
Starting the Conversation
Trucker’s mother was taking him home, but they saw Jim walking to the fire engine. Therefore, they decided to start up a conversation with the fire captain so that Trucker could give a special request.
Trucker told Jim about his love of firefighters, and his mother agreed with everything he said. In fact, Trucker was fascinated by all things fire-department-related. Though common for Jim, he was shocked that the adoration went so far.
Sarah, Trucker’s mother, told Jim about the many ornaments and trucks her son had, and they all related to firefighting. He didn’t care for other toys and topics. Overall, the fire department was a huge part of his lifestyle.
Trucker had worn a T-shirt and jeans, but there was a firefighter jacket over that ensemble. Jim thought it was cute and showed just how much the boy cared about this line of work. Then, Jim asked why he was inspired so much.
Sarah explained that her husband was also a firefighter. Therefore, Trucker grew up hearing all the stories and often visited the fire station where his dad worked. This touched the man’s heart, reminding him about his family, as well.
Not at Home
Jim asked if Sarah’s husband was in the fire department of New York, but the answer surprised him. She and Trucker lived in Maui, Hawaii, and planned to go back in one week. Trucker’s dad worked there.
The other firefighters were puzzled that Trucker didn’t live in Hawaii. Sarah told them he was diagnosed with neuroblastoma about two years ago. Therefore, the pair were in NYC for his treatments.
Neuroblastoma typically affects children under 5 years of age and is a rare form of cancer. There’s no cure for the kids who get it. However, doctors often manage the symptoms, and that’s why he was in NYC.
The captain and team were all curious about why the mother-son duo was leaving the Big Apple. She explained that Trucker had stage-four cancer, and there was nothing more to do. They wanted to be together as a family.
Trucker’s body had to endure so much during his treatments, and it just led to more stress. Likewise, his medications took a toll on him. The doctors had done what they could, including chemotherapy three times and two surgical procedures.
Those treatments hadn’t removed the tumor, and the doctors could do nothing else to assist. Therefore, Sarah decided they should go home and be with family during this horrific time. Everyone was sad at the news.
Jim now wanted to hear the child’s request after learning about his story. Trucker wished to be a firefighter. When the news sank in, the captain hugged him, but the whole team decided to do something to make this happen.
Though Jim was touched, he still wondered why Trucker had picked the FDNY instead of his hometown’s fire department in Hawaii. Sarah said that her son had seen Jim in action and became fascinated.
The Extra Mile
Now, Jim understood that this boy wanted to be a firefighter more than anything. The captain could have handed him a badge and taken some photos with him, but he felt it should be more special than this.
Finally, the captain came up with a suitable plan and started implementing it before the mother-son duo went back to Hawaii. Jim and his team set a date for a ceremony so that Trucker could become their honorary firefighter.
Before the big day, Jim learned that there were special guests planning to attend. In fact, Trucker’s father and some other relatives chose to fly to NYC to be at the ceremony. Everything had to be perfect!
The Big Day
Jim was stressed out about the ceremony, but he had nothing to fear. Trucker’s family supported him because of his decision. Plus, Trucker’s dad, Joshua, helped him to the podium so that he could recite his vows and be a firefighter.
His Happy Birthday
Trucker’s birthday occurred a few days after his ceremony. The FDNY firefighters were in attendance, but so was his family. His wish was now fulfilled. However, his family had another decision to make, and it wouldn’t be easy.
Ending the Treatments
It was hard to reveal the decision to the family, but Joshua and Sarah thought it was for the best. They decided to end the treatments. Though they wanted their son to be alive, he was in pain because of the chemo and medications.
The decision was made, so now the family chose to live their lives with Trucker as best as they could. They called it the Trucker Tough Challenge, and people shared it on many social media platforms.
Though they went to many places, Trucker and the family visited British Columbia first. They wanted their son to experience the world, but they couldn’t afford much. Therefore, they chose Whistler and learned to sled.
Joshua and Sarah had a large family and plenty of medical bills caused by Trucker’s treatments. Therefore, they couldn’t afford lavish trips and activities. However, they did what they could because it made their son happy.
Before long, the Trucker Tough Challenge went viral. They were overwhelmed by the support they got. Plus, many people shared the information and donated to this cause. Overall, they wanted Trucker to have fun with his remaining life.
He Passed Away
About a year after ending his treatment, Trucker passed away. He died in his mother’s Hawaiian house. This young boy became an honorary firefighter and then spent quality time with the family.
The Surprising Perspective
Everyone believes Trucker passed away too soon. However, there’s no regret for his parents. They did what they could to give him a great life, and he experienced joy and love. Though it was painful, they wanted to celebrate his short life.
While everyone was sad that Trucker passed, it hit the firefighters in NYC and Hawaii significantly. They sent well wishes to the family, but then they chose to do more for their honorary firefighter.
The Hawaii firefighters created a beautiful memorial mural for Trucker. Though part of it was that his father was on the department’s team, it ran deeper. They knew this boy loved the fire service.
To make it more special, the Hawaiian fire service added Trucker’s name to the official register. Now, this young boy lived on, even though he passed away. His father actually gained comfort from this.
There for Them
Marin County Fire Department has been there for Trucker’s family before and after the boy passed away. Throckmorton Ridge Fire Station even welcomed them with a sign that showed solidarity. It read “TruckerRidesWithUs.”
Trucker’s dad knew that he had to continue being a firefighter because it’s what his son loved most. In fact, it helped him get peace about his son’s death. Often, Joshua visits Trucker’s grave.
It’s been a few years since Trucker passed away, but Joshua and Sarah work hard to raise awareness about neuroblastoma. They’re advocates for finding less harsh treatments for these young children who suffer.