Four-year-old Lucas Kelling smiled broadly as Chardon Fire Chief Larry Gaspar swore him in as a fireman in front of the fire station July 22.
Four-year-old Lucas Kelling smiled broadly as Chardon Fire Chief Larry Gaspar swore him in as a fireman in front of the station July 22.
The ceremony was followed by a training session in the fire hall and an emergency call to rescue Spiderman from a smoking King Kone truck down the hill.
Lucas, of Munson Township, rode in the fire truck to the scene and with a little help from other firemen, he got the job done.
“It worked out 10 times better than I thought it would,” said Gaspar. “It was a lot of fun doing it.”
When Spidey was on his knees recovering from smoke inhalation, Lucas helped him get back on his feet, the chief said.
The event was the culmination of a life-long dream for Lucas, who was diagnosed with neuroblastoma — a life-threatening cancer — a year ago and spent most of the last year in the hospital undergoing stem cell transplant and other treatment.
The surgery led to a pulmonary hemorrhage in December that temporarily dropped his 40% chance of survival to 1%, said his mother, Jamie Kelling, during a phone interview July 23.
A survivor, Lucas was bouncing with excitement Thursday showing off his turn-out gear and the badge Gaspar stuck on his jacket to the crowd.
“This was definitely a dream come true for him,” said his mom, as they made their way to Hilton Head for a family vacation so Lucas could see the ocean. Lucas’s father, Eric, sister, Hailey, 9 and brother, Nate, 7, were at the fire station to cheer him on Thursday.
After Spiderman’s rescue, Lucas received the key to the city from Chardon Mayor Dan Meleski and City Manager Randy Sharpe.
Friday morning, Jamie said Lucas had just turned 3 on Nov. 4, 2019, when he was diagnosed.
While he was undergoing early treatment, a social worker explained about options available to support the family such as the A Special Wish Cleveland organization, Jamie said.
“They offered more for us (than expected.) We were not knowing what we were in for,” she said, adding the Kellings chose ASW because it was Cleveland-based.
Lucas was a candidate for the stem cell transplant and the cells were harvested before he was really sick, Jamie said.
When complications from the surgery arose in December, the family was prepared for the worst.
“I didn’t think he was going to make it,” she said. “The fact he’s even able to do this is amazing.”
Lucas has to be scanned every three months because his form of cancer is so aggressive, but for now, he is considered to be in remission with an 80% chance of survival, Jamie said.
Thursday’s event was sponsored by Nurenberg Paris, Heller & McCarthy of Cleveland and the NP4Kids When I Grow Up program. The organizations took care of all the details, she said, adding she will be running in The24in24.org fundraiser in August to help out ASW in thanks for their support.