2 young cancer patients become firefighters in New Jersey

Two South Jersey fire companies signed up special firefighters Thursday night. One is 6, and the other is 4.
November 22, 2013 6:37:45 AM PST
Two South Jersey fire companies signed up new firefighters Thursday night, but these were very special inductions. One of the new firefighters is 6, and the other is four.

It is a story of strength, courage and community as firefighters help make two little boys' dreams come true.

Four-year-old John Marandola met firefighter Kevin a few weeks ago at a fall festival at the Evesham Fire House.

"I hear Fireman Kevin's name 50 times a day. It's definitely an official bromance," said Faith Marandola.

You would never know it by looking at the energetic 4-year-old, but John John, as everyone calls him, is battling brain cancer.

Doctors told his parents he has three to 9 months to live.

"That was 5 and half months ago and 3 days. We count the days," said Faith.

After meeting Fireman Kevin, John John, for the first time, told his mom he had a dream.

"He said, 'Mom, I want to be a fireman when I grow up.' For me, that was a big deal, because when I think in terms of John growing up, it's a hard thing to contemplate," she said.

His dream came true on Thursday. John John became the newest member of the Evesham Fire Department, including a shirt and helmet.

In Washington Township, 6-year-old Aiden also dreams of becoming a firefighter.

He is fighting his second bout of cancer.

He too saw his dreams come true as he was sworn in Thursday night.

Carlos Ruiz and the Phillie Phanatic were on hand to cheer him on.

"It is overwhelming that one town can come together for one child so much," said Aiden's mother Christine Stier Ludwig.

"His enthusiasm, his courage is an inspiration to us," said Deputy Chief Michael Powers.

"It's a blast to have him here," said Kevin Pingon.

It was a special moment these families will hold onto forever.

"They have hearts of gold. They have room for someone like John John to love him and let him live out the dream that he's having right now," said Faith.

If you'd like to follow John John's journey, visit their blog at godsfaith.wordpress.com.