Fire­house opens doors to chil­dren fac­ing ill­ness

Casey Cares event brought laughs and smiles to very sick chil­dren, their fam­i­lies

Baltimore Sun - - MARYLAND - By Heather Mongilio heather.mongilio@car­roll­coun­ty­times.com

Chil­dren were run­ning around the New Wind­sor fire­house Satur­day morn­ing, go­ing up the firetruck lad­der and us­ing a hose to put out card­board fires.

Else­where at the fire­house, the chil­dren and their fam­i­lies were ex­plor­ing fire equip­ment be­fore they all joined to­gether in the cafe­te­ria for lunch.

The kids were there through the Casey Cares Foun­da­tion, which pro­vides ac­tiv­i­ties and events for fam­i­lies with crit­i­cally ill chil­dren.

While the kids were laugh­ing and smil­ing at the fire­house, each of the kids has or had a se­ri­ous ill­ness re­quir­ing hospi­tal trips and treat­ment, a re­quire­ment to be part of Casey Cares, said Erin Rit­ter, the or­ga­ni­za­tion’s deputy as­so­ciate di­rec­tor.

The or­ga­ni­za­tion fa­cil­i­tates an ac­tiv­ity every 56 min­utes, Rit­ter said.

The Casey Cares Foun­da­tion sup­ports about 700 fam­i­lies right now, and it en­cour­ages fam­i­lies to par­tic­i­pate in about six events per year, she said.

Ac­tiv­i­ties range from events like the day at the New Wind­sor fire­house to send­ing gift cards for movie nights and din­ners.

“We try to do what the fam­ily can do,” Rit­ter said.

Some of the par­tic­i­pants were fighting bat­tles against cancer, while oth­ers had trans­plants, sickle cell ane­mia or other med­i­cal com­pli­ca­tions. There were also sur­vivors, in­clud­ing 17-year-old Tay­lor Hard­ing, who came from the Tow­son area.

It was Hard­ing’s last event with Casey Cares. She turns18 next week and will age out of the foun­da­tion’s pro­grams. She’s par­tic­i­pated in its pro­grams for 31⁄ years, she said.

For three of those years, she was bat­tling leukemia, but she fin­ished her treat­ment in De­cem­ber, she said.

Dur­ing her time un­der­go­ing treat­ment, she said, the Casey Cares events lifted her spir­its and helped bring her to­gether with peo­ple go­ing through sim­i­lar treat­ments.

Casey Cares “just knew how to put a smile on my face,” she said.

“I es­pe­cially loved this be­cause it’s new to me,” Hard­ing said.

She said she’s watched tele­vi­sion shows about fire de­part­ments, such as “Chicago Fire,” but the New Wind­sor event al­lowed her to see what fire­fight­ing is like in real life. A dog lover, Hard­ing also got to meet po­lice K-9 units.

The New Wind­sor Vol­un­teer Fire Com­pany reached out to the Casey Cares Foun­da­tion to host the event. It was the com­pany’s sec­ond time do­ing it, said Dale Low­man, a fire­fighter with the com­pany.

In ad­di­tion to New Wind­sor vol­un­teers, other fire de­part­ments came out with equip­ment and vol­un­teers, as well as the Mary­land State Po­lice, the New Wind­sor Li­ons Club and neigh­bors, in­clud­ing Mayor Neal Roop, Low­man said.

Low­man orig­i­nally pitched the idea a few years back and said he en­joys see­ing the kids’ faces light up and mak­ing them smile.

“My fa­vorite part of hav­ing kids here is their faces when they see the firetruck,” he said.

His other fa­vorite mo­ment was an ac­ci­dent. He was hand­ing out award cer­tifi­cates to the kids when 4-year-old Con­lan Bosley stole the mic and the show.

Con­lan told ev­ery­one in the au­di­ence if he pointed to them, they had to come up and speak. He pointed to his dad, Matt, and told him it was his lucky day, elic­it­ing laughs from the au­di­ence.

Con­lan gave back the mi­cro­phone af­ter singing “thank you,” with en­cour­age­ment from his mother, Charlotte.

They trav­eled from Bal­ti­more for the event, and Con­lan said his fa­vorite part was “go­ing high up in the sky” on the firetruck lad­der.

Charlotte Bosley said the event al­lowed them to do fun events with Con­lan dur­ing a rough time in his life. He’s un­der­go­ing cancer treat­ment.

Matt Bosley said Con­lan en­joyed be­ing around the fire equip­ment and getting a red fire hel­met to wear.

“We had a great time. He wore the fire hat for sev­eral days,” he said.

KEN KOONS/BAL­TI­MORE SUN ME­DIA GROUP

Ali­jah Wright, 4, right, of Sev­ern, and Con­lan Bosley, 4, of Bal­ti­more, ride on a firetruck dur­ing the Casey Cares Fire­fighter for a day pro­gram at the New Wind­sor Fire Com­pany.

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