8/8/2003 12:00 AM
Children’s dreams and wishes come in different shapes and sizes. Some wish to be a model or police officer, or simply to visit Disney World. Some children want to see snow or meet a movie star. For 6-year-old Garret Lyon, his dream is to be a firefighter. With the help of Make-A-Wish Foundation volunteers and TEEX, his wish was granted.
On July 23, Garret and his family arrived at Brayton Fire Training Field from their home in Copperas Cove for a day filled with fun activities that the young firefighter was sure to enjoy. After a delay caused by rain and lightning, Garret arrived at classroom 24 and was given the royal firefighter treatment.
Fifty volunteer firefighters in the Firefighting Phase IV class watched as Ray Gish, a 33-year Annual School guest instructor from the Lyondell Citgo Refinery in Houston, taught Garret how to properly “bunker out,” a term used for donning the firefighter’s uniform.
While Gish helped Garret with his gear, Garret told the onlookers: “It feels good to be a firefighter. I always wished to be one.” Garret also said that he wanted to fight a fire, “just one fire.”
“We’ve had dignitaries from D.C. here as well as national representatives and senators,” said Gish. “But having Garret here really puts the icing on the cake. We have enjoyed having him here.”
Angie Hoaglin, Garret’s mother, said that Garret has wanted to be a firefighter since he was 3 years old, and in the two months before the visit to the Fire Field, he had been talking about nothing else.
After lunch, TEEX Fire Engine 19 arrived with lights flashing. Garret, who has lost his eyesight, was led around the engine so he could feel the different parts before climbing aboard and sitting with ESTI guest instructor Gary Young of Copperas Cove so that he could reach and honk the horn. Following a short tour of Brayton Fire Training Field, Engine 19 stopped outside prop 65, a gas truck simulator where Firefighting Phase IV students were seated, listening to instructors. Garret and his brother and sister sat with the students and listened to the lesson.
As the students manned their hoses, ready to fight the gas truck fire, Garret, with the help of ESTI instructors Dallas Renfrew and John Franceschi, learned to operate the fire hose nozzle to spray water.
Garret was diagnosed with Optic Glioma, a tumor in the optic nerve, in November 1998. His illness has caused the loss of his eyesight. Because there is no cure yet for this condition, Garret has undergone 3½ years of chemotherapy, a neurosurgery in May 2000 and radiation treatment. His mother says that he is stable now, and they have stopped treatment.
Garret’s family learned of the Make-A-Wish foundation through a Scott & White social worker in Temple. Hannah Norman, for the Make-A-Wish Foundation, worked with ESTI Municipal Extension Program Coordinator Ben Kennedy, to fulfill Garret’s wish to be a firefighter.
“He has always been an exceptional boy,” Garret’s mother said. “Throughout this whole thing he has had a very good attitude and always makes those people around him happy. I am extremely proud of him.”
Garret’s visit to the Fire Field ended with a special presentation of a scrapbook filled with photographs of his special day as a firefighter—a wish come true.