This boy with a short life of seven years could live without regret after fulfilling his dream to become a fireman. It is heartwarming to learn how these kind-hearted firemen went out of their way to put a smile on this boy’s face during his final days.
What would you do if you had only had a short time to live?
For 7-year-old Frank “Bopsy” Salazar, who was diagnosed with terminal leukemia in 1978, he wanted to be a fireman, visit Disneyland and ride in a hot air balloon—all of these wished were fulfilled in 1981 as he became the first official beneficiary of Make-A-Wish Foundation.
“As his mother, it was very meaningful to me that people who didn’t know us stepped forward to be in Bopsy’s life,” said his mother, Nance Octaviana Trujillo.
She revealed in an interview with Huffington Post in 2013, 32 years after his son’s death, that “my son is alive and well in so many people’s minds.”
Indeed. The touching story of Bopsy becoming a fireman has been shared on social media, and forwarded in email chains even until today.
The beautiful story of Bopsy fulfilling his dying wish to become a fireman in 1981, has been widely shared on social media, even until today
The internet version of the story goes…
Like any other good mother, Trujillo had hoped that his son, Bopsy, would grow up happy and achieving his dreams. But this wish became wistful when when Bopsy was warded into St. Joseph’s Medical Center in Arizona due to leukemia. Trujillo was heartbroken.
Trujillo had hoped that his son, Bopsy, would grow up happy and achieving his dreams
Choking with sadness, the then 26-year-old single mother looked at Bopsy with brooding eyes and asked if he had any things he would like to fulfill.
Bopsy told her: “Mommy, I always wanted to be a fireman when I grew up.”
“Let’s see if we can make your wish come true,” Trujillo replied with a smile.
He was the first official Make-A-Wish kid, who had all his dreams fulfilled
A much realistic version of the story was retold by Trujillo to Huffington Post.
In December 1980, Linda Pauling, co-founder of Make-A-Wish Foundation, who had also lost her 7-year-old son, Chris Greicius, to leukemia earlier that year, contacted Trujillo.
“[Pauling] told me that instead of letting the kids just feel sorry for themselves, they wanted to grant wishes, to do something every kid would benefit from, to fulfill their dream while they’re still a part of this world,” Trujillo said.
Learning about Bopsy’s dreams, Arizona Department of Public Safety (DPS) Officer Frank Shankwitz and co-founder of Make-A-Wish Foundation, who had also helped Linda’s dying son fulfilled his wish to be a DPS officer, granted Bopsy a balloon ride as well as a trip to Disneyland.
Fireman Bob Walp got Bopsy a custom-made fireman uniform and made him the honorary fireman
To realize his dream to become a fireman, they got in touch Bob Walp, a fireman at a local fire department; and he did more than he was asked to for the ailing boy.
Firstly, Fireman Bob got him a custom-made fireman uniform, which Bopsy wore it with much pride. Then, he made Bopsy the honorary fireman, and a member of the Engine 9 crew. Next, he even gave him a tour around the fire station and taught him a few techniques on firefighting.
“We decided to give him a badge and a jacket. We let him use the hose. We took him in the truck,” Fireman Bob told HuffPost.
Bopsy was given a tour around the fire station, and was taught a few techniques on firefighting
After that contented experience as a fireman, Bopsy spent a few months at home, until that fateful day after Easter in April 1981, when he was admitted to St. Joseph’s Hospital again. This time round, he was very sick. His doctor, Dr Paul Baranko told Trujillo he had only a few days or even hours to live.
Shankwitz and fireman Bob were informed of this downhearted news and decided to pay Bopsy a visit, in an interesting way!
The day before Bopsy passed away, Shankwitz visited him at his ward. Suddenly, they heard a knock on the window. To Bopsy’s surprise, Fireman Bob was at the window of the third-story building, wearing with a big grin.
The day before Bopsy passed away, Fireman Bob paid him a surprise visit by climbing into his ward through the window, using a fire engine ladder!
A moment later, he climbed in through the window, together with four other firemen, using a fire engine ladder.
Upon seeing this, Bopsy was ecstatic. He asked his mother earnestly whether he could be out there with the team.
Trujillo acceded to his request and wheeled him downstairs, where he was greeted by the members of Fire Station 1. Their truck was renamed “B1” for “Bopsy 1.”
Before bidding farewell, Bopsy asked Fireman Bob, “Am I a real firefighter?”
“Well, yeah,” Fireman Bob replied, “Of course you are.”
Sadly, Bopsy took his last breath the very next morning.
Bopsy told his mother Trujillo: “I’m gonna be fine. I’m always going to be your guardian angel. I’ll be part of the galaxy and part of the heavens, and I’ll take care of you”
Alone after Bopsy’s passing on, Trujillo wasn’t bereft of hope.
Weeks before Bopsy’s death, the little boy consoled Trujillo, upon seeing her mother’s woeful face: “I’m gonna be fine. I’m always going to be your guardian angel. I’ll be part of the galaxy and part of the heavens, and I’ll take care of you.”
Emboldened by Bopsy’s last words, Trujillo earned herself a PhD in 1991, and becomes the founding chair and professor of the department of Applied Indigenous Studies at Northern Arizona University (NAU).
“My son is alive and well in so many people’s minds”
Today, Shankwitz still kept the picture he received from Bopsy. On it, Bopsy drew Shankwitz, and wrote, “Poncho (Frank in Spanish), I got to blow the siren.”