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Inspiring boy becomes fire chief for the day in Saratoga Springs

By David Self Newlin | Posted - Nov 27th, 2012 @ 1:45pm


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SARATOGA SPRINGS — Fire Chief Jess Campbell couldn't help but notice small disabled boy during the Saratoga Splash event earlier this summer.

Campbell was spraying the city's children with a fire hose, doing his best not to spray the boy he thought might not be able to handle the powerful stream.

But 7-year-old Jonah Bradshaw could not be held back. With the help of his mother and a smile on his face, Jonah got closer and closer to make sure he could get a splash or two with the other children.

It was that kind of determination and bravery that brought Jonah to mind when Saratoga Springs Fire Department got a new fire engine this year.

"Jonah was somebody that made an impression on me," Campbell said. he thought Jonah's bravery and courage were exemplary, and were qualities that could be found in every firefighter.

So he decided to do something that would be any boy's dream: To make Jonah the honorary fire chief for a day.

Jonah got to ride in the new truck all around the city, and in a special ceremony Monday night, the chief officially pinned his badge onto Jonah's new uniform.

About a hundred residents were gathered in the cold to hear from the chief and witness the ceremony.

"I am honored to make him chief for the day," Campbell said.

Fire Chief Jess Campbell explains the day's activities and responsibilities as chief to Jonah Bradshaw.

As the city celebrated the new fire engine Monday, so too they celebrated Jonah's relentlessly positive attitude in the face of his disability.

Jonah has arthrogryposis multiplex congenita, a disease that prevents his muscles from developing properly and prevents him from walking and using his arms fully.

But with the help of a special wheelchair, he can do almost anything. As he waited for the fire truck to arrive at his home, he played soccer with his siblings in the front yard. He controls the chair with his mouth and chin, and it allows him to go up and down as well as travel around.

"The chief thought it was just so awesome of him just to do whatever possible to be like the rest of the kids," Said Jonah's father Tom Bradshaw . "He had the courage, the integrity to just go in there and do what it takes."

Jonah also got to spend some time with Santa and Mrs. Claus, who rode along on the engine. His siblings also got to ride along.

Jonah will have lunch with the chief Tuesday and will spend the day making inspections and performing other tasks as the fire chief.

"It's a special day today," Jonah said.

Contributing: Mike Radice

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