Monday, November 8, 2010
Acticle below found here: http://www.mlive.com/news/grand-rapids/index.ssf/2010/11/photos_9-year-old_battling_bra.html
GRAND RAPIDS -- He sprayed a fire hose almost as big as his 9-year-old self, and got a sprawling view of downtown from atop a fire truck. All smiles, it seemed the last thing on Gerrit Baas' mind Friday was cancer.
Diagnosed with an aggressive terminal brain cancer about three weeks ago, Baas was invited to the Grand Rapids Fire Department's La Grave Avenue station through the Hero for a Day program as a patient of Helen DeVos Children's Hospital.
He will begin six weeks of chemotherapy and radiation on Monday and his day as a pint-sized fireman served as sort of a "last hurrah" before the tough treatments, said his mom, Kathy Baas of Holland.
Tufts of blonde hair sticking out of his blue GRFD baseball cap, Gerrit had full reign of the department Friday afternoon. He traveled 80 feet in the air on the truck's aerial platform, sprayed the hose and went on a ride-along with some of the firefighters.
"I felt like I might faint almost," Gerrit said. "It's been so much fun all day."
He likes video games and sports -- baseball in the summer when it's not cold. And at one point when he was "really little," Gerrit said he wanted to be a firefighter.
Members of the department showed Gerrit what that job was like, said Rob Pease, the department's strategic planning officer.
It was great to "make somebody happy showing them what we do," he said.
Jeremy Baas said his son had been "pretty accepting" of his health diagnosis and excited in the days leading up to the department visit.
"I don't know if he knew what to expect," he said.
It was nice to tell Gerrit about a trip to Grand Rapids that didn't involve going to the hospital, his mother said.
She's hoping for prayers as the family waits to see what will happen with her son's illness.
"We need a miracle for the cancer," she said.
As Gerrit showed off his armful of almost 40 silly bands -- his favorite in the shape of a rockstar -- he said he wanted to thank the firefighters who made it possible. He figures he may have a few more wishes up his sleeve.
"Probably there's a million out there," he said. "I just haven't discovered them yet."