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SALT LAKE CITY — On July 9, while playing in a friend’s backyard with his younger sister, 6-year-old Bridger Walker, of Cheyenne, Wyoming, did something any big brother should do: He saved his 4-year-old sister’s life by standing in between her and a charging dog.
According to his father, Robert Walker, Bridger was bitten in the face by the dog, requiring over 90 stitches to repair the wound. The events that transpired, Walker said, were recounted to him by his son, daughter, and the dog’s owners. He said that he hopes the story will bring happiness and hope to those who read it.
"While at a friend’s house, Bridger and his sister went into the home’s backyard," Walker wrote in a press release. "Upon entering the yard, the child with them pointed to one dog and said, 'that is the nice dog,' and pointed to the other dog in the yard, explaining, 'that is the mean one.' Bridger explained how, at that moment, the mean one ran at them. In Bridger’s words, 'I stepped to the side, in front of my sister so that the dog wouldn’t get her. I kept moving, so it couldn’t get past.'"
The dog did not relent but continued to charge, with the end result being the bite to young Bridger's face.
In the account given to his father, Bridger said that after the dog bit him, he yelled for his sister to run away; and when the dog released his grip, he ran to his sister, leading her to a safe part of the yard. It was then, according to accounts by the owners, when the dog was secured, Bridger's wounds were addressed, and emergency care was called for.
While I sat in a folding chair next to Bridger’s hospital bed, I began to ask about what happened … I asked why he shielded his sister, and Bridger, in his own words and without hesitation, declared, 'If someone had to die, I thought it should be me.'
–Robert Walker, Bridger's father
Once at the hospital, Bridger’s wounds were taken care of and CT scans were taken to inspect further damage. It was in between scans when Walker was able to talk to his son and gain some insight on what caused Bridger to step between his sister and the charging dog.
"The most challenging moment for me was during a quiet moment between CAT scans," Walker wrote. "While I sat in a folding chair next to Bridger’s hospital bed, I began to ask about what happened … I asked why he shielded his sister, and Bridger, in his own words and without hesitation, declared, 'If someone had to die, I thought it should be me.'"
Walker said that hearing what his son said brought tears to his eyes and reminded him of a lesson on sacrifice their family had recently had during their gospel study.
"Recently, during family scripture study one Sunday, we discussed personal sacrifice and service," Walker recalled. "Yet, at that moment when Bridger stepped in front of his sister, he was the teacher. I was able to keep it together just long enough for emergency workers to wheel Bridger into surgery. The surgery would be nearly a two-hour procedure; it involved pulling his face and scalp back together, holding it in place with over 90 stitches."
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Hey, all. Please, share my nephew’s story so that it gets as much exposure as it can. We know that our little hero would love some words of encouragement from his favorite heroes. On July 9th, my six year old nephew Bridger saved his little sister’s life by standing between her and a charging dog. After getting bit several times on the face and head, he grabbed his sister’s hand and ran with her to keep her safe. He later said, “If someone had to die, I thought it should be me.” After receiving 90 stitches (give or take) from a skilled plastic surgeon, he’s finally resting at home. We love our brave boy and want all the other superheroes to know about this latest hero who joined their ranks. @tomholland2013 @chrishemsworth @robertdowneyjr @markruffalo @prattprattpratt @twhiddleston @chadwickboseman @vindiesel @chrisevans EDIT: I just finished visiting with Bridger at his home. His wounds are looking so much better! He’s in great spirits, and his awesome personality is intact. He can’t smile too widely yet, but he was grinning as I read some of your comments to him. I’d also like to mention here that the dog’s owners are really great people who have been nothing but kind to Bridger and his family. We feel no resentment toward them at all, and—if anything—there’s only been an increase of love between our families as a result of this incident. EDIT 2: Once again we’re blown away by the amazing comments and messages that Bridger’s receiving. I’ve had lots of inquiries about a GoFundMe. Bridger’s family has asked that any one wishing to help out financially can, instead, donate to @mission_22 or @wwp. Bridger is also a huge fan of Science, especially Geology. So I’m going to start a post where people can share with him pictures of cool rocks that they see. EDIT 3: Once again, everyone’s kindness has meant so much to us. I’m trying to get to all of the messages that I can, but it may take some time. For those who have inquired about sending Bridger some rocks, here’s the address to use: Bridger Walker P.O. Box 22141 Cheyenne, WY 82003 #BridgerStrong
Being touched by Bridger’s story, his aunt Nicole Walker, who recently moved back to Wyoming from Utah, shared the story on Instagram, which now has over 1.3 million likes and counting, and has gained the interest of many celebrities – many who play superheroes in the movies. Robert Walker said the response they have gotten has been positive.
"The response has been both surprising and humbling," he wrote. … We are so appreciative of all the kind words, love, and prayers extended. ... At the time of this release, we have received tender, heartfelt messages from his heroes and many others including: Hugh Jackman, Zachary Levi, Tom Holland, Anne Hathaway, the Russo brothers, Robbie Amell, and Mark Ruffalo, as well countless others from around the world."
And while many have reached out asking how they can help, Walker said he is not sharing his son’s story for any personal gain. He said, however, that if people feel inclined to donate on Bridger’s behalf, there are some organizations he hopes people will consider donating to.
"After much prayer and consideration, we ask that if you would like to help, please consider contributing to the following organizations: Mission 22 – an organization dedicated to winning the war against veteran suicide. Operation Underground Railroad – committed to the permanent eradication of child sex trafficking. or The Wounded Warrior Project – an organization whose goal is, 'to help bring independence back to our nation’s most severely wounded veterans.'"
The Walkers hope that while people are keeping Bridger in their thoughts and prayers, that the owners of the dog will be added to thoughts and prayers as well.
"We humbly request that you keep the dog’s owners in your prayers and forgo any superficial judgments because we love them," Walker wrote.
The Walkers were informed that the dog, a 1-year-old German shepherd, would be put down but said that Bridger expressed concern for the dog, and didn’t want anything to happen to it.
At the end of the press release, Walker spoke again of a recent family discussion where they talked about a message they would tell the world if they were given the chance, not knowing that they would soon be given that chance. The following message is what Walker said his family had decided on:
"After Bridger’s actions, our family has settled on a simple request: may we each actively strive to bear one another’s burdens; stand up for and protect those that are weak, oppressed, or those whom the world might forsake; mourn with those that mourn, comfort those that need comfort, and love one another. May we follow Bridger’s example, approach the world as a child, and bring greater peace to our own homes, communities, states, and countries."
Updates on Bridger’s story have been posted on his aunt’s Instagram page @nicolenoelwalker.