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Firefighter for a Day
Submitted by: Sangre de Cristo Hospice & Palliative Care

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Firefighter for a Day

Just a few days removed from his latest chemotherapy treatment, Christopher Young, 5, a pediatric patient at Sangre de Cristo Hospice and Palliative Care, pocketed a pack of memories thanks to a lunchtime visit with members of the department.

Christopher’s visit was made possible through the efforts of his hospice nurse Molly Quintana, who put the plan in motion once she learned of his love of firemen, fire trucks and other big rigs.

Shawna Genova, a hospice social worker, relayed this information to her firefighter husband Grant, who said the department jumped at the chance to roll out the fire-red carpet for the youngster.

“It’s an absolute honor to be able to do this,” Grant Genova said.

Although initially overwhelmed and even a bit apprehensive as the team of firefighters and guests greeted him Thursday, the bright-eyed visitor quickly adapted to his surroundings.

He was presented with an honorary firefighter’s uniform — a shiny, bright-red helmet, shirt and protective jacket — before being invited to give the department’s big pumper truck a going-over.

With his parents Chris and Edel at his side, Christopher’s eyes widened as he surveyed the rig.

“It is so cool,” he whispered.

Wanting to make sure its newest member has what it takes to dowse the big blazes, firefighters assisted Christopher as he sprayed a steady stream of water from the truck’s hose.

“That’s the way, Christopher,” Quintana said. “Put out that fire.”

While he wasn’t quite ready for a ride in the intimidating vehicle, Christopher took to the driver’s seat like a pro, even donning a communication headset with his father’s help.

“Hey, can we go fight a fire now?” the youngster asked, following that up with a joke that brought a smile to everyone.

“Why did the fireman eat the hot dog? Because it was on fire!”

Before Christopher is truly prepared to fight a fire, Grant Genova said he must first learn about the tools of a firefighter’s trade: the pickaxe and Halligan tool.

“This is the fun stuff,” Grant told Christopher. “We sometimes get to break stuff and break into places and that is what we use.”

“With your strong muscles, you can do that, Chris,” Quintana encouraged.

After a hard day in the station, Christopher was ready for a pizza lunch with his new co-workers, who ensured that he sat at the head of the table.

“We’re having a good time,” said the child’s father Chris as his son dined on a cheese slice. “And we’ve been trying to do that every day — have a good time.”

The Youngs, who moved to Pueblo from Florida in March, said they have been overwhelmed by the support shown to them by the hospice and medical professionals, who have provided their son with exemplary care.

“We have a lot of people to be thankful for,” Chris said. “And we are truly grateful.”

As was the department’s new young “chief,” who took home a bagful of gifts, courtesy of the firefighters.

“Hospice is about living, not dying, and we do our very best to help our patients have the best quality of life possible for as long as possible,” said Lauren Leomiti, director of development for the hospice. “We want them to be able to do the things that are important to them and help create memories.”

Jon Pompia with The Pueblo Chieftain reported on this story and shared the events as described. 

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