6-Year-Old Battling Leukemia Sworn In as Honorary Firefighter After Being Given Just Weeks to Live
Ohio's newest firefighter is only 6 years old, but his strength and resilience in his fight against leukemia has proven that he's worthy to be on the team.
Ohio's newest firefighter is only 6 years old, but his strength and resilience in his fight against leukemia has proven that he is just as worthy to be on the team.
Brian Ford of Alexandria was given the celebration of a lifetime when he was named an honorary firefighter two weeks ago, amid his battle against acute undifferentiated leukemia.
More than 200 people came out to the swearing in ceremony as the 6-year-old became the first honorary firefighter of the Fredericktown Community Fire District. After the national anthem and some speeches, Brian was presented with a full firefighter's uniform, as well as other gifts from the mayor, state representatives and various local sports teams.
"I don't know that there were many dry eyes when the bagpipes started," said firefighter Jason Bostic, who has become a good friend of the family since Brian was first diagnosed in 2014.
Bostic said he became interested in Brian's story after noticing posts about the boy's leukemia on Facebook. As a well-known ambassador of the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society, he felt he needed to reach out to the family and offer them support in their time of need.
When Bostic met Brian's family for the first time, he said he felt an immediate connection with their struggle against leukemia. Bostic said his mom was diagnosed with leukemia when he was a boy, and "it's new territory for me to get attached to someone the same age as my son."
Brian and his family, including his seven sisters, have been invited to the firehouse many times in the years to come, until it became clear that Brian may not win his battle against disease.
That's when Bostic suggested to his chief that Brian should be made an honorary firefighter.
"Brian deserved to be an honorary firefighter for his courageousness, his bravery in the way he fights," Bostic told InsideEdition.com. "If Brian stood in front of me today, and he was at the age to be a part of the fire department, I would absolutely love to have him around."
The department then scrambled to get ready for the event since, "We wanted to do it while Brian could still participate," Bostic said.
Within two weeks, the boy was being honored on stage in the arms of his firefighter friend.
"That night, his legs were extremely sore and he didn't want to get out of my arms when I picked him up," Bostic said. "He was in a lot of pain, but he wanted to be a part of everything that evening."
Brian got his badge just in time because moments after the ceremony ended, he was called into action to put out a fire nearby.
The department set up a 15 foot structure designed to look like a small house. They then set it on fire, so the honorary firefighter could get a turn at holding the nozzle, and saving the day.
Even though Brian was in pain, and wearing a mask to protect the sores on his face from being exposed to bacteria, he turned to Bostic and said, "Can you see it? Can you see me smiling?"
"It was starting off to be a bad day, but they turned it into a good day," Brian's dad Tim Bowers told InsideEdition.com.
On Monday night, Bostic said the fire department was contacted by the Make-A-Wish foundation to coordinate a joint effort to surprise Brian and his seven sisters with a custom playground in their backyard, so the family can spend Brian's final days playing together.
Even though Bowers said, "a lot of the good days are behind us," the six-year-old continues to remember fondly the day he was made a firefighter.
"The other night, he was laying there sleeping," Bowers recalled. "They had put him on morphine and oxycodone and he started saying, 'Mom, we have got to get up and put out a fire.'"
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