“If I hadn’t had my wish experience as a kid, I might not have had the inspiration to join the fire department in the first place and be where I am today,” says 18-year-old Ezra, from Mars, PA. Twelve years ago, Ezra received his wish to have a Power Wheels® Fire Rescue Jeep® and Fire Department Playhouse. After he was diagnosed at the age of five with a life-threatening metabolic disease, Ezra had no idea that this very wish would become a huge turning point in his childhood.
Back when his wish came true in 2004, six-year-old Ezra was receiving various therapy and treatment for his medical condition. Ezra couldn’t help but think how cool his new firetruck and playhouse were as he spent his summer days in the playhouse with his friends. Ezra drove the truck up and down the street, which brought the neighborhood together and gave him the opportunity to meet his childhood friends. Ezra’s older brother would use his video camera to capture them as they played; he even filmed their own movie, “Ladder 165,” where Ezra and his friends pretended to be firefighters who rescued people from emergencies.
Now, Ezra doesn’t need to pretend anymore. After a difficult time where he struggled with his medical condition, Ezra fought back and began firefighter training. At the age of 14, Ezra became a junior volunteer firefighter. While training proved difficult because of his energy limitations, Ezra was determined to give it his all. His hard work resulted in a boost in confidence in himself and his academic abilities; he went from struggling academically as a freshman in high school, to pursuing his dreams of becoming an engineer as a senior. Along with the skills he learned, Ezra feels that the most memorable experience as a firefighter has been meeting his best friends through the fire department.
While Ezra didn’t realize at the age of his wish how much it truly meant, he can now say that his imagination encouraged and inspired him to follow his dreams. During the summer of 2013, Ezra responded to a commercial building fire in his town, where he took action without receiving direct order. He raised ground ladders to upper floor windows of the building to provide an emergency exit for the firefighters inside. At the age of 18, Ezra rose to the ranks of firefighter because of his proficiency in the skills and techniques, along with his passion.
Now, as he prepares to embark on a new journey at the University of Pittsburgh next year, Ezra hopes to pursue a degree in mechanical engineering. His fascination with building and fixing things has developed from a hobby into a professional goal. Ezra has built various objects, including GoPro® camera mounts, portable two-way radio holders and computer systems. His latest project is a device that secures a laptop on the back of auditorium seats to make it easier to do homework and take notes.
Without his wish, he cannot say for sure if he ever would have continued his interest in the fire service, or ended up as a volunteer firefighter. “Looking back, it was the start of something that gave me courage to pursue what I really love, and be confident in who I am,” says Ezra. Now, Ezra can use his technical skills to concentrate on his degree in mechanical engineering, and ultimately, follow out a childhood wish that has only made him more determined than ever.