Members of IAFF Local 3705 build junior-sized firehouse for 4-year-old
Four-year-old Benton looked somewhat confused as his mother carried him into the backyard of his rural Farmington home on a windy and cool Sunday afternoon. After all, it’s not every day that a child suddenly finds themself surrounded by friends, family and more than a few strangers who are waiting to present them with a very special gift.
It wasn’t long, however, before the youngster caught sight of a junior-sized firehouse that emergency services and firefighter members of IAFF Local 3705 had spent the day constructing for the child with Dravet Syndrome who loves everything about first responders — from firefighters and fire trucks to ambulances and police officers.
Make-A-Wish Missouri and Kansas recently announced that Benton’s wish of receiving a first responder-themed playset was coming true yesterday. The organization partnered with the union to grant Benton’s wish, and it was obvious that the men and women who volunteered their time, effort and money to make the child’s wish come true had an absolute ball doing it.
There was a palpable sense of joy and excitement in the air as the volunteers painted the firehouse, added a couple of real firehouses to the side, and lovingly affixed a sign to the front of the small building that read “Firehouse USA.”
The reveal took place a little after 3 p.m. at Benton’s home on Bonney Lane. The St. Francois County emergency services and firefighters began building the playset at 8 a.m. and continued their decorating efforts throughout the day. Of course, it was all worth it to see the wide-eyed child enter his very own firehouse filled with first responder-themed gifts and sensory toys. Benton and the other children giggled as he began to run the siren that had been installed to make the firehouse as realistic as possible.
“The IAFF Local 3705, made up of St. Francois County emergency services and Farmington professional firefighters, were excited and honored to assist Make-A-Wish Missouri and Kansas with helping Benton’s wish come true,” said Kaleb Price, IAFF Local 3705 member, EMT and firefighter. “Many of our members are familiar with Benton and his family, and we looked forward to making his wish come true in the best way possible. The Union is the one that got us all together — the firefighters and ambulance district.
Asked if the union gets called upon often to help on projects like this, Price said. “We’ve done events out at Camp Hope, and we’ve done trash pickups on the side of the highways, but as far as doing something like this, this is a first for us. Today has been rewarding. It’s been a long process as far as coordinating everything and getting everything together, but between the ambulance district, and our local shop union, it’s been pretty good. We’ve had a decent turnout today, and the weather’s pretty good. It’s been nice. We’re just appreciative and glad that we got the opportunity to help out like this. It’s been awesome.”
“It is always so awesome to witness an entire community rally around a wish and a wish kid,” said Brian Miller, vice president of Marketing and Communications with Make-A-Wish Missouri & Kansas. “Benton was so excited about his wish and had no idea that it was going to be coming true on Sunday.”
Make-A-Wish® Missouri and Kansas creates life-changing wishes for children with critical illnesses. We are on a quest to bring every eligible child’s wish to life because a wish is an integral part of a child’s treatment journey. Research shows children who have wishes granted can build the physical and emotional strength they need to fight a critical illness.
Headquartered in Phoenix, Arizona, Make-A-Wish is the world’s leading children’s wish-granting organization, serving children in every community in the United States and in 50 countries worldwide. The local chapter is headquartered in Ballwin, Missouri, and serves all counties in Missouri and Kansas.
Kevin R. Jenkins is the editor of the Daily Journal. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.