Rolling Meadows firefighter Rick Acosta made a return visit to La Rabida Children's Hospital in Chicago last month, only to find a refreshing sight: an iPad charging next to a young patient's bed.
It reassured Acosta that 8-year-old Adorian Fentry of Rolling Meadows was using the gift that he and members of Rolling Meadows Firefighters Local 3075 had purchased for him after coming to his rescue in March.
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That's when they responded to a 911 call after Adorian had sat on a cocktail table in his home's living room, knocking over a candle and setting his clothes on fire.
Adorian suffered second- and third-degree burns over 35 percent of his body that required extensive treatment and rehabilitation at La Rabida, located on Chicago's South Side.
When Acosta and the other firefighters found out that his intensive therapy would prevent Adorian from seeing his family and classmates except on the weekends, they pitched in to purchase two iPads.
They were hoping the dual-facing cameras on the iPads would allow Adorian to video chat with his family members, teachers and schoolmates, using FaceTime and Skype.
"Most traumatic emergency medical calls usually involve some sort of follow-up. However, when we have children in emergency trauma situations, it takes everyone to a new level," Acosta said. "Our union Local 3075 members wanted to help this family and without hesitation, donated money out of their own pockets.
"We added a donation from our fire chief as well to purchase the iPads," Acosta added. "Our main goal was to put a smile on Adorian's face, and I think we did that."
Tiffany Fentry, Adorian's mother, says they did just that.
"Oh, he's smiling. Trust me," she said. "He's getting the most from that iPad."
In all, eight of the Rolling Meadows firefighters traveled to La Rabida in May to surprise Adorian with their gifts. Included in the group were four of the firefighter/paramedics who had responded to the 911 call at his home back in March.
"His eyes lit up when he saw us walk in, and got even bigger when we gave him the iPads," says Colin Barr, one of the firefighters.
Just seeing his excitement was satisfying for the firefighters, but then Adorian got out of his wheelchair to shake their hands and thank them.
"Those of us who were on the call that night were overwhelmed by his bravery, when he remained calm throughout," Barr added. "After visiting with him, we were again struck by his bravery and determination -- and, of course, his manners."
Adorian's mother says they have been using the FaceTime application to stay in touch, and they hope to use Skype to reconnect with his teachers at Kimball Hill School over the summer. Just learning to use the iPad, she adds, has lifted his spirits.
"His therapy is coming along," she says. "He has his good days and his bad days, but this has really made him happy."
Best of all, after more than two months of rehabilitation, Adorian is looking toward returning home soon.
"If all goes well," his mother says, "he should be coming home in three to four weeks."