A local Salem boy faced with numerous health issues got to live his dream of being a firefighter for a day last week, thanks to the Windham and Salem Fire Departments.
Sean Corey, 5, of Salem, was born with chronic kidney disease, chronic bladder disease and epilepsy and according to his mother, Patricia, was only given nine months to live by doctors after he was born.
Against those odds, Sean has persevered through multiple reconstructive surgeries to this day. So many trips in local ambulances had an impact that might not be expected: Sean's dream is to one day do what firefighters and EMTs do.
"He told me he wants to save people the way they've saved him," Patricia Corey said.
Weeks ago, Sean, Patricia and Sean's uncle went for a tour at Salem's Central Fire Station, and according to Salem Firefighter Mike Marchand, Sean lit up like a Christmas tree.
"We got to see how happy he was, and he told us he wants to be a firefighter," Marchand said.
When Sean's uncle came back later that day to thank the firefighters, the wheels then were set in motion to give Sean a special day with the fire department.
After a month of planning and coordination, that day finally came last Wednesday, Aug. 8.
Marchand said off-duty firefighters went to Sean's home and picked him up, with lights and sirens going on their apparatus.
"I asked Sean, 'Hey, if we get called out for an emergency, do you think you might be able to help us fight a fire?'" Marchand said. "He didn't hesitate, didn't seem scared at all. He said 'Yeah, I'll help.' He's an inspirational little kid."
Marchand said Sean Corey got the thrill of his life by getting on the radio and calling in the fire. They got Sean dressed up in his own firefighter's suit and helped him pull the hose to put out the demonstration blaze.
Then, Marchand said, Sean radioed to say the fire was out.
"We had Smokey the Bear come out and give Sean a plaque, naming him an honorary firefighter," Marchand said.
"This kid is so full of life," Marchand said, adding Salem's firefighters are now Sean's "big brothers."
Patricia Corey said the firefighters "went so far above and beyond" to give her son his "day of hope" to live out his dream.
"He was beyond ecstatic," she said. "He was in shock at one point. I looked at him and asked, 'Are you OK?' He said he was and said, 'Mommy, this is unbelievable.'"
Patricia said Sean is working on painting canvases to each fire house so they'll have something by which to remember his day, the same way he'll never forget it.
Someday, Sean hopes to join his big brothers in the ranks of emergency personnel. But for now, his day as an honorary firefighter will be something he cherishes forever.
"I was speechless," Patricia Corey said of the day. "I loved how much compassion (the firefighters) showed. It was so much better than I could have expected."