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Young boy fighting cancer gets honor from firefighters unlike any other

USA TODAY USA TODAY 6/07/2016 Barrett Lawlis
Brian Ford, 6, helped put out a blaze © Facebook/The Humankind Brian Ford, 6, helped put out a blaze

Brian Ford was nervous when the call came out that there was a working fire in Fredericktown. He got suited up, loaded in the truck and headed out.

Once he arrived on the scene, he worked with fellow firefighters to put out the blaze, safely extinguishing it before it could spread. It was a huge accomplishment for the 6-year-old out of Alexandria, who was made an honorary firefighter Thursday night.

"Brian did amazing with his first fire," Jason Bostic, a Fredericktown Community Fire District firefighter, said. "He was nervous, like most firefighters are, for his first time and he was tired, like we are after training. But he used his strength and courage to get through it."

Brian was diagnosed with acute undifferentiated leukemia in November 2014. He fought back against the disease with the support of his family, Bostic and the community.

He went into remission until the disease returned this year. After a stem cell transplant in April failed, Brian's condition was deemed terminal. But even then, he's been brave and strong, his dad Timothy Bowers said.

"He's kept up his same cheery attitude that he had while he was in the hospital, even when he's in pain," Bowers said. "It's good we could have this celebration for him tonight. Besides the sickness, he had a great time."

Brian's mother, Victoria Bowers, said being able to make him an honorary firefighter was a fantastic thing and having Bostic's help in setting it up was great.

"Jason's been here for the long haul, helping us out and visiting Brian since 2014," she said. "It was a great way to see that Brian's got friends, that there's a community and family to back him up."

Brian Ford © Facebook/The Humankind Brian Ford Bostic made Brian his honoree for the 2015 and 2016 Scott Firefighter Stairclimb, which he has done for 10 years.

"When I heard Brian's story, it mesmerized me and I couldn't turn back," he said. "After that, I did everything I could for him to make him smile, whether it was reading with him, helping him with schoolwork or even playing with him at the hospital."

Bostic's mother was diagnosed with leukemia in 1986, so he can understand what the Bowers family is going through.

"I've been on both sides of this. We could never be sure how long my mom would be away, but these kids today at (Nationwide) Children's can play together, and that's important for them," he said.

Capt. Shane Smith helped Bostic prepare Brian for his first fire response. He lost his mother to leukemia a day after his high school graduation. Thursday's ceremony put him at a loss for words.

"I feel like this is helping to pay it forward a bit. I was so proud of Brian while we got him suited up," Smith said. "He's only six years old, and he's gone through more stuff than a lot of adults have had to. He should be an inspiration for everyone."

FCFD Chief Scott Mast said it was monumental to be able to make Brian an honorary firefighter, a first for Fredericktown's department. Brian was honored with a full procession, accompanied with bagpipes and a color guard.

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