Firefighters make wish come true, and then some
Sometimes when a dream comes true, the reality is even better.
A special present from the Make-A-Wish Foundation -- an adaptive bike -- arrived Friday afternoon at the Mount Prospect home of 11-year-old Zachary Jakubowski, who has a rare and severe form of epilepsy.
But the foundation made the wish even sweeter by having Mount Prospect Fire Chief John Malcolm and Mount Prospect firefighters arrive at his home on the 800 block of East Prospect Avenue to give Zachary a ride around the neighborhood in a fire truck.
For the Lincoln Junior High School student, who is obsessed with firefighters, it was the ride of a lifetime.
"This is his wish. He has always wanted to be a fireman," his father, Eric Jakubowski, said. "His favorite thing to do is (watching) 'Chicago Fire.' He knows them all by heart."
Fire trucks, he said, are all over the house.
As the sirens grew louder on Prospect Avenue, Eric asked Zachary, who was standing with his school buddy Danny O'Connell, "What's going on?" Zachary answered, "A fire truck."
Eric said, "You better go help him," and Zachary hurried toward the fire truck, which parked in front of their home.
Malcolm then walked up to Zachary and shook his hand as the firefighters informed him that he was Fireman No. 7.
"I hear you're going to be a fireman," Malcolm said to Zachary. "I've got a ride for you. Want to go for a ride?"
He handed Zachary a Mount Prospect fire chief's helmet and a T-shirt commemorating the 100th anniversary of the Mount Prospect fire service.
Zachary was then strapped into the passenger's seat of the fire truck, where he rode alongside Capt. Jim Miller, fire and life safety educator for the Mount Prospect department. Miller piloted the truck while Zachary repeatedly and enthusiastically pulled on the cord that blew the horn.
As Zachary alighted from the truck, he was greeted by cheers and high fives from friends and family.
"This is tremendous. I had tears in my eyes when I saw the fire brigade coming down the street, said Zachary's mother, Joni Beaudry. "He has always loved fire trucks, so we thought that would be great."
Zachary's adaptive bike will be decked out like a fire engine.
"It looks like a large tricycle, but it's large enough that my husband and I will ride, and he will ride in front," Joni Beaudry said. "Now we can go back on family bike rides. We couldn't do that for a while, because there is no way to take him on a longer bike ride."
She said Zachary's form of epilepsy causes many physical complications.
"We are trying to keep him out of a wheelchair as long as possible," she said.
"So now, with the bike, that will really help increase his mobility, especially during the summer months."
Malcolm said the department was honored to be a part of fulfilling Zachary's wish.
"When they called us initially to come out and support it, I said, 'Absolutely.' They just wanted a T-shirt. I said, 'We'll do more than that. We'll bring the fire department out,'" Malcolm said. The smile on his face -- what a great feeling."