If he has his way, Harry will be driving firetrucks by the time he’s old enough to reach the pedals. For as long as I can remember, this kid has been obsessed with anything that has wheels, but his heart belongs to firetrucks. I feel like one morning he woke up and decided to live his life completely revolving around vehicles. I’m blessed for many reasons. I still volunteer for the Freehold First Aid Squad, and I have for almost fifteen years. I have been able to bring Harry down to the squad building many times and let him see the ambulances, play with the lights and sirens, and even talk over the PA. He loves it, even though each time he’s finished with the ambulances, he asks for a firetruck.
More importantly, we have some amazing friends. My friends the Prochnows are like family to me. Uncle Rusty was a friend of my sister’s growing up (I actually hated them both for a long time, being the cooler, wiser older sister I was) but as luck would have it we ended up becoming friends. Rusty and I both worked at Six Flags Great Adventure at the dolphin show, and we became fast friends. He is now the Godfather to my little man, and I consider him one of my best friends, like family. His parents are second parents for me, and I love them dearly. Andy, the younger of the two, and I never spent too much time together, but just like the rest of the family I can not see him for a long time and then when we get together he makes me feel like we are best friends. They really are an incredible family.
We were all close like this before Harry came around, but it was strengthened when they showed such amazing love and support for him. I expected nothing less from an amazing family like theirs. For Harry’s second birthday, Rusty and Zeke and the entire family offered to host a party. You see, the Prochnows are a fire family. Not only that, but they collect vintage fire trucks. So, for Harry’s birthday, they offered their firetrucks and the barn they stay in. We had been to see the firetrucks before, and Harry was obsessed. We ended up having a grand time at the party. Zeke is a director at the YMCA, so of course he had some great ideas for kid things to do. I went home and cried, I was so overwhelmed by the love from this family. Harry slept clinging to his firetruck.
Since then, we have visited the FDNY Fire Zone in NYC – which is a store/museum with a firetruck inside the store that the kids can climb on. I would highly recommend it if you have a fire buff like my little guy.
Back to amazing friends, my buddy Amanda from my gym (CKO for all of you who don’t know, my second home and the place that has saved me from losing my mind) ran our inaugural Harry’s Heroes race with me in March, and we have become close friends through the process. Her father is a long time member of Pleasant Plains Volunteer Fire Department in Toms River, New Jersey. They invited Harry down for a meeting night to tour the firehouse and go for a ride on a firetruck. We went down and Harry was a VIP. The entire crew was there, and they pulled out all the stops. Speaking of stopping, Harry wouldn’t even slow down. He ran up and down the length of the garage and must have touched every inch of every truck. He sat in both Chief’s vehicles and I’m sure he messed up their computers (he even found and promptly stole a lollipop from one of them, and sang the “Paw Patrol” theme loudly on the PA). He got to watch the chain saws get started and tested, the equipment get checked, and the bucket extend all the way. He even got to go for a ride! Basically, his head exploded. The Chief even gave him his own helmet and turnout coat, followed by ice cream in the meeting hall. There just are no words for amazing people like this. I’ve basically been weeping throughout this entire blog post and now I need a moment.
OKAY so how do I go about thanking all of these amazing people in our life? I just don’t think it’s possible. I told the Chief last night that I used to be so embarrassed, even with close friends, when someone wanted to do something special for Harry. Now, a year and a half after our journey started, I don’t feel so embarrassed anymore because I know the struggle my little man goes through every day. I also know that the future won’t be an easy one. I’ve said I’ve dedicated my life to the cause, but I’ve also dedicated my life to showing this man the world and helping him conquer it. I can’t do that without my army, and I have the best one around.