Note: we are republishing this story in light of recent reports that suggest more and more people all across the country are experiencing random acts of kindness even amid the challenges of the pandemic.
Three-year-old Trucker Dukes, who’s been battling cancer for a year and a half, was granted his firefighting dream after it was announced that he would become an honorary member of New York’s Fire Department.
Shauna Dukes called it one of the many “tragic blessings” for Trucker. Although they are from Maui, Hawaii, mother and son moved to New York for his Stage 4 neuroblastoma – a rare and aggressive cancer that attacks the nervous system – treatment.
One day they came home to find firetrucks outside their building, and Trucker was elated.
Shauna stated: “Every fire truck, he thought it was for him,” adding that Joshua Dukes, Trucker’s dad, is a firefighter back in Hawaii.
“He would hear a siren, and his jaw would drop,” she said.
While the New York City firefighters were responding to a simple kitchen fire, Trucker was so excited that he ran into the arms of Captain James Grismer.
“I see this little boy excitedly walking towards me with his eyes aglow. I opened my arms and he basically climbed up and hugged me around the neck,” Grismer told KHON 2. “It was as if we’ve been friends/brothers for years.”
Grismer invited Trucker to the fire station, which sparked a great friendship.
Grismer and the other firefighters let Trucker explore their firetrucks, and threw him his third birthday party.
Shauna stated that the firefighters “brought us meals at the hospital, they’ve given us rides in the firetrucks, they’ve hosted us for holidays… They’ve been amazing.”
“We have these people that are now like our family that we wouldn’t have met otherwise,” she added.
Trucker has been over the moon because of the time he spends with the firefighters.
“Every time we see a fire truck, he goes, ‘Yeah, boys!’” Shauna said, and added that “three firehouses on the Upper East Side now know Trucker” and “have standby mac and cheese in their lockers.”
After hearing of Trucker’s bond with the firefighters, New York Fire Commissioner Daniel A. Nigro offered to swear in Trucker as an honorary firefighter at the FDNY’s Brooklyn headquarters.