Firehouse opens doors to children facing illness
Casey Cares event brought laughs and smiles to very sick children, their families
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.
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.