Firefighters help make wish come true for boy with cerebral palsy
BY JERRY WOFFORD World Staff Writer
Tuesday, November 06, 2012
11/06/12 at 6:15 PM
BROKEN ARROW - Sean Cunnane climbed the steps up the fire engine to his new bed as the firefighters who helped build it watched.
He made it up and down easily, his cerebral palsy not an obstacle for him on the large, wide, firetruck-red steps as he held the railing.
Sean, 13, then explored the rest of his new, firefighter-themed room, with all material and labor donated to make his wish come true.
"His dream was to live at a fire station," said John Smith, district vice president for Tulsa Firefighters Local 176, who helped with the construction. "We wanted to do what we could to make that dream come true."
Sean received the donation through the Wishgivers organization, which also operates Get Motivated seminars through the country.
Sean got a set of walking aids and learned about the renovations at the Tulsa seminar in February.
The renovation took about three months, during which Sean stayed out of the room to keep the surprise, said his mother, Kris Cunnane.
"He's been waiting patiently," she said. "Now he's excited to see it. He absolutely is obsessed with firefighting."
Sean burst into the room Monday and stood there, quietly taking it all in.
The walls are a deep red set against a dark blue carpet, firefighter paraphernalia sits on shelves, and old photos from the Tulsa Fire Department cover an entire wall.
His bed was now on top of a bright red firetruck, built by hand by the firefighter volunteers.
"He chose the bed," Cunnane said. "I showed it to these guys and asked if this is possible. They shrugged and said, 'Sure.' "
Overcome with excitement, Sean didn't have much to say about the room at first.
"I like it," he said. When asked what he liked most, he replied, "Everything."
He moved with ease around the room crowded with firefighters and family members.
Cunnane said the walking aids have greatly improved her son's mobility since he received them in February.
Cerebral palsy hinders Sean's ability to walk, causing him to make labored movements while walking on his toes.
The device stimulates the muscles in his leg with a small electrical charge when his leg is extended, which gives him a more normal gait and lifts his toes.
Sean's getting "better and better all the time," Cunnane said.
Smith said many firefighters gave their time to help build and renovate the room. They knocked out a closet and combined two rooms into one, with donated couches and chairs next to the bedroom.
"A lot of us have jobs on our days off, and a lot work in construction," Smith said. "We have different skills to bring to it."
But the work never seemed like work, he said. What they were doing was for Sean, whom many of the firefighters had gotten to know over the past year.
What they did was to make Sean's life better.
"He just makes us all want to be better people," Smith said.
With the new room, Cunnane said, Sean gets that much closer to his dream and greatly improves his life.
"This is so much more than we could imagine doing," she said. "We may never see him again."
Original Print Headline: All fired up
Jerry Wofford 918-581-8310
Sean Cunnane, 13, who has cerebral palsy, explores his newly renovated and decorated bedroom for the first time Monday at his Broken Arrow home. Tulsa Firefighters Local 176 helped with the construction. JAMES GIBBARD / Tulsa World
John Cunnane (left) and paraprofessional JoElla Gotcher watch as Cunnane's son Sean Cunnane, 13, who has cerebral palsy, explores his newly renovated and decorated bedroom for the first time Monday. JAMES GIBBARD / Tulsa World
A firefighter's bunker gear, or protective outer clothing, decorates Sean Cunnane's new bedroom. Sean received walking aids during a Get Motivated seminar in Tulsa last winter, and a collection was taken to renovate his home to make it more accessible. Tulsa firefighters volunteered on the construction project. JAMES GIBBARD / Tulsa World