On Friday, a New Jersey fire department surprised a young boy whose vision is deteriorating by naming him their honorary fire chief.
Four-year-old Jackson Mitchell of Wildwood Crest, New Jersey, has a hereditary disease that degenerates his eyesight and progresses quickly.
He wears fire engine-red glasses to help him see, but he has no peripheral vision and no vision at all after sundown.
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“He could wake up tomorrow and not be able to see a thing,” his mother Christy said.
However, Mitchell, whose father is an injured fireman, dreams of becoming a firefighter.
“If you ask him what he wants to be when he grows up, he wants to be a fireman,” Christy said.
Seeing Mitchell’s passion, the Wildwood Fire Department allowed him to participate in their first-ever cadet firefighter program, made for 10- to 17-year-olds.
“He’s a ball of fire,” Brian Cripps of the Wildwood Fire Department said.
When his mother asked if he could take a ride in their fire truck—she was astounded at what happened next.
Mitchell was brought to the station where he received a customized helmet and badge emblazoned with his name. He repeated phrases after the firemen for an official swearing-in ceremony, and then it was official — he was dubbed the honorary fire chief of the Wildwood Fire Department.
“They went above and beyond because that wasn’t what was expected,” Christy said.
“We just had to make it happen,” Fire Chief Daniel Speigel said.