Meet Jim Grimzer
Jim Grimzer had been born and raised in New York City for his entire life. He was the captain of the Fire Department of New York, which was no surprise as he came from a family of firefighters. He loved serving his local community.
The Dangers of the Job
While on the job, Jim had suffered a tragedy that left him confused about what he was supposed to do with the rest of his life. Nonetheless, he understood the dangers of his job but this situation hit home for him.
Losing a Good Man
Jim had lost a good man that was on his team. The team member was a young man who had recently joined the department. The captain had only met the new firefighter on a few occasions, but he still felt responsible for his men.
The Tragic Day
The grief that Jim had felt because of the Fire Department's recent loss had eaten the captain up for weeks. He couldn't seem to get himself out of the deep hole he had found himself in. That's when a massive change came his way.
A Special Visit
Jim performed a surprise visit one day where he went to the scene of a mild situation and helped the team. The group resolved the issue and prepared to head back to the station. He wanted other firemen to know that he had his team's back.
The New York Fire Department
FDNY has more than 10,000 firefighters working across the area at various stations. Due to this, many firefighters could have been at the scene on one specific day, but Jim was in the right place at the right time to experience something powerful.
The Special Request
A young boy walked up to Jim with a special request he wanted to ask. It was normal for Jim to have young and excited children come up to him to see the fire engine. However, he could immediately sense that this boy had something else in mind.
Meet Trucker Dukes
This young boy was named Trucker Dukes. He had been visiting the city for a relatively long time. To the young boy, New York City was the best place to continue his special interest. He wouldn't have imagined that his dream would come true.
Trucker and his mom were staying in New York and resided in Ronald McDonald House. The pair were returning from an outing when the boy noticed the FNDY firefighters nearby. He became increasingly excited. That's when he spotted the captain of the Fire Department.
Starting a Conversation
Trucker and his mother had planned to head home when they saw Jim walking back to his fire engine while at the scene of the call. That's when the pair approached the captain and started a conversation with him where Trucker revealed his special request.
Trucker explained to Jim that he loved firefighters more than anything on the planet. His mother nodded in agreement with her son's statement. Trucker was fascinated by the fire department. This was common but Jim was surprised to hear exactly how far this adoration went.
He Was Committed
Trucker's mom, Sarah, had told Jim about the different trucks and ornaments her son kept that were related to firefighting. He wasn't interested in any other topics or toys. The fire department was a massive part of the young boy's life.
Trucker was dressed in regular jeans and a t-shirt, but he also had a firefighter jacket above this. Jim found this to be absolutely adorable and it also showed him how much Trucker cared about firefighting. Jim asked Trucker's mom what inspired his love for firefighting.
Sarah told Jim that her husband was a firefighter. Due to this, Trucker had grown up hearing about firefighting and always visited his dad at the fire station. This touched Jim's heart because it reminded him of his own family.
A Long Way from Home
Jim asked Sarah if her husband was part of the New York Fire Department, and he received a shocking answer. Sarah and Trucker were originally from Maui, Hawaii, and were returning there in a week. This was where Trucker's father worked.
Everyone was puzzled by this because they would have expected Trucker to be in school in Hawaii. Sarah explained that he had neuroblastoma and was diagnosed two years previously. Sarah and her son were in New York for Trucker to receive treatment.
A Rare Condition
Neuroblastoma is a rare form of cancer that typically affects young children under five years old. There's no cure for patients like Trucker who suffer from the disease. However, doctors can manage this, which is why Trucker comes to New York City.
Stage Four Cancer
The captain and his team were curious about why Sarah and Trucker were leaving New York City. Trucker was on stage four and the family decided that they would rather be together. There was nothing more they could do to help Trucker.
Even More Stress
Although Trucker's body had endured a lot through his treatments, something else was causing him even more stress. His medication was taking a massive toll on his body. The doctors tried everything. He had gone through two surgeries and had chemo three times.
None of the treatments had worked to remove his tumor. There wasn't anything else the doctors could do to help him. That's why Sarah decided it would be best to take Trucker home to be with his family. This saddened everyone.
After hearing Trucker's story, Jim was curious to hear the boy's request. The young boy's request was to be a firefighter. The captain stared at the boy and then hugged him. The entire team was touched and wanted to do anything they could.
Jim had one question for the boy. He wondered why he chose the FDNY instead of his dad’s department in Hawaii. Sarah had explained to Jim that Trucker had seen the captain in action and was fascinated by what he was doing.
Going the Extra Mile
Jim understood that Trucker cared more about becoming a firefighter than anything else. However, the captain of the fire station still wanted to make it more special than simply given the young boy a badge and taking a few pictures.
The captain finally came up with the right plan and quickly started getting it implemented before Sarah and Trucker left for Hawaii. Jim talked to his team and set a date for the young boy's ceremony to become an honorary firefighter.
The Guest List
Jim was shocked when he found out what guests would be at the ceremony. He learned that Trucker's dad and other relatives were flying to New York to come to the ceremony. This made him want to ensure everything went perfectly.
The Big Day
After being stressed for days before the ceremony, it seemed like Jim had been worrying about nothing. Trucker's family was there to support him and Trucker's father, Joshua, carried him to the podium and helped him recite his vow to become a firefighter.
A Happy Birthday
Trucker celebrated his birthday a few days after the ceremony. His birthday was filled with the young boy's family and FDNY firefighters. Trucker's greatest wish had been fulfilled. It was then that the family decided to make another important decision.
Ending His Treatment
It was going to be challenging to reveal their decision to the rest of their family, but Sarah and Joshua felt it was best for Trucker. They were ending his treatment. They wanted to keep him alive as long as possible, but not at the expense of living.
Once the family decided to end Trucker's cancer treatment, the family decided that they wanted to live life to the fullest. This is what was later called Trucker Tough Challenge and it was shared across different social media platforms, which showed amazing experiences.
Trucker and his parents and three older siblings had their first adventure in British Columbia. The family was determined to let Trucker experience as much of the world as they could afford. They took a trip to Whistler to learn how to sled.
As a bigger family and contributing medical bills for Trucker's treatment, Joshua and Sarah understood that it would a challenge to afford all of these activities and trips. However, it was worthwhile being able to see how happy Trucker was.
It wasn't long before the Trucker Touch Challenge became a viral story. The Duke family was overwhelmed by the immense amount of support they received. Many individuals streamed and donated to their cause. Everyone was happy to see Trucker having fun.
Less than a year after being taken off his treatment plan, Trucker passed away. He was in his mother's house in Hawaii when he died. The young son had fulfilled his dream of becoming an honorary firefighter and got to spend quality time with his family.
A Surprising Perspective
There's no doubt that Trucker had passed away far too soon. However, his parents had little regret. They had done the best they could and given Trucker an amazing life filled with love and joy. They knew they needed to celebrate Trucker's life even if saying goodbye was painful.
The firefighters in Hawaii and New York City were deeply saddened by the loss of Trucker. They all made sure to send their well wishes to his family. However, some of them wanted to do more than just this for the honorary firefighter.
The Official Register
Another thing that the fire service did was add Trucker's name to their department's official register. This would ensure that the young boy lived on in memory within the fire service. His father took great comfort in knowing that his son's name would appear alongside his own in the register.
Trucker's father understood that the best way he could keep his son close to his heart was to continue working as a firefighter and do the job his son loved so very much. When he misses his son, Joshua visits his grave.