By Gina Florescu
I’ve lived in NYC for a long time, but I had no clue that the training academy for the FDNY was a sprawling complex of buildings on Randall’s Island.In a complex that is simply called “The Rock,” I was not sure if I was entering a U.S. Marines training base or touring Universal Studios. There were hundreds of male and female “probies” (new recruits) running (nowhere in particular), hauling (incredibly heavy) hoses, scaling (burned out) buildings in full fire gear with a (rescue) dummy in tow – all in training to serve us! Amazing sight! Now just think of what that would look like to a bunch of second graders…
When the FDNY is called on for help – they come quickly (and loudly) in all cases. But their dedication to NYC is never more apparent than when they are called on to help a child through Make-A-Wish. They are important members of the New York City community who help facilitate wishes and exemplify what it means to be strong.
Recently, the FDNY invited eight-year-old Charlie – also considered one of New York’s Bravest – and his friends to The Rock for a very special visit. Charlie’s wish was to take his second-grade classmates on a memorable field trip to thank them for their friendship and support throughout his battle with leukemia. With their values of unity and strength echoing the underlying message of Charlie’s wish, the Fire Department gave Charlie and his friends an amazing day they’ll never forget.
Charlie was welcomed by a standing ovation from the recruits and was sworn in as an honorary firefighter by FDNY Commissioner Daniel A. Nigro.
There was no better message for Charlie to hear than be brave, and no better sight for him to see than grownups who stand together as one.
Firefighters, who children perceive as tough and fearless, joined Make-A-Wish in saying that fear is okay, and we can face anything together. Courage is not a solitary pursuit, and fearlessness is not the goal.
Charlie’s classmates, one by one, expressed their honor and amazement at being included in the day because ‘Charlie could have wished for anything, but chose to share his wish with us.’ Their friend exemplified the mission behind Make-A-Wish, behind the FDNY, and behind his own sense of self, when he chose to join hands and be brave together.