Wish granted

-Messenger photo by Kelby Wingert

Connor Brokaw, 10, watches for the Fort Dodge Fire Department fire truck to arrive to his house on Saturday. Brokaw lives with epilepsy and spina bifida and was granted a wish from Make A Wish to visit the St. Louis Fire Department this week. On Saturday, the Fort Dodge Fire Department gave Brokaw and his family a send-off for their trip.

Few things in life are as bright as Connor Brokaw’s smile when he sees the Fort Dodge Fire Department roll down his street with a fire truck and ambulance.

The 10-year-old beamed with excitement on Saturday afternoon as Engine 5 and Medic 3 stopped by with firefighters to give him a big send-off for his family’s trip to St. Louis with Make-A-Wish Iowa.

Connor Brokaw lives with epilepsy and spina bifida, and he suffers from regular seizures, many of which require a visit by his friends at the Fire Department. But Saturday, they weren’t there because they had to save him — they were there to celebrate with him.

“Fire trucks are his main thing,” his mom, Tanya Brokaw, said. “No matter how many he already has, every birthday, every Christmas, he just wants more fire trucks, no matter what.”

Connor even has an old firefighter Halloween costume that he’s outgrown but still insists on wearing sometimes, she added.

-Messenger photo by Kelby Wingert

Connor Brokaw, 10, checks out Engine 5 with Lt. Nate Conrad on Saturday. Brokaw, who lives with epilepsy and spina bifida, loves fire trucks and firefighters and was thrilled about Saturday’s send-off.

Connor was first diagnosed with epilepsy at 6 months old, his mom explained. With his epilepsy and spina bifida, he’s spent countless nights in the hospital and has gone through nearly 30 surgeries over the years.

Despite living with two major disabilities, Connor doesn’t let anything slow him down.

“He’s always go, go, go,” his grandpa, Bill Miller Sr. said.

Connor’s family lives just a few blocks from the Fort Dodge Fire Station, so he regularly sees the fire trucks and ambulances whiz by.

“He waves at them,” Tanya Brokaw said. “As soon as he hears the sirens, he’s up looking out the window to see where they go.”

-Messenger photo by Kelby Wingert

Fort Dodge Fire Department firefighter/paramedics Bryce Hamilton and Alan Angstrom laugh with 10-year-old Connor Brokaw after the two sprayed firefighter Kasey Porter on Saturday afternoon. The Fire Department visited Brokaw’s home to give his family a send-off for their Make-A-Wish trip.

When Make-A-Wish Iowa reached out to Connor to grant him his wish, his request was simple — he just wanted to see a really big fire station and meet some firefighters. Maybe even get to ride in a firetruck.

“They have the aquarium, and he loves animals,” Tanya Brokaw said. “He loves the zoo and aquarium.

On Saturday, Make-A-Wish volunteers Shelby Coffey and Emina Hastings brought some balloons and cookies and roadtrip snacks to send with the family. This trip has been more than two years in the making, Hastings said.

“We met Connor before COVID, so it’s been such a long time waiting for this to happen,” she said. “So I think there’s a little extra excitement because of that.”

For his send-off, Connor got a tour of the FDFD’s Engine 5 by Lt. Nate Conrad and firefighters Alan Angstrom, Bryce Hamilton and Kasey Porter. Connor got to hold up a fire hose to see just how heavy they are, and he even got to spray his mom and Porter with a smaller canister, with help from Hamilton.

-Messenger photo by Kelby Wingert

Connor Brokaw, 10, sprays his mom, Tanya Brokaw, during a visit from the Fort Dodge Fire Department on Saturday. The Fire Department came to send off the Brokaws for a Make A Wish trip to St. Louis.

For the first time in his short life, Connor also got to look into the back of an ambulance and not have to worry about having to go into it and go to the hospital.

Connor’s family left on Saturday and will spend six days in St. Louis. On Wednesday, Connor will get to spend the day with the St. Louis Fire Department. The rest of the time, he and his family will explore the city and see the sights, including the zoo, aquarium and science center. They’ll even get to go up into the iconic Gateway Arch.

Connor’s pretty excited to go to the zoo.

“I like giraffes because they’re tall,” he said.

According to the 2022 Wish Impact Study from Make-A-Wish, there is quantitative data showing how wish fulfillment promotes emotional well-being for children and their families.

-Messenger photo by Kelby Wingert

Connor Brokaw, 10, gets some hands-on experience with a fire hose with FDFD firefighter/paramedic Alan Angstrom during a Make-A-Wish send-off for Brokaw and his family on Saturday.

“A Make-A-Wish experience is more than a moment in time, it brings hope where there is fear, strength where there is anxiety, and joy where there is sadness,” the organization said. “Of those surveyed, 94% of parents recalled seeing improvements in their child’s emotional well-being, so much so that 91% of parents reported the wish gave their child a better chance of surviving their illness.”

-Messenger photo by Kelby Wingert

Fort Dodge Fire Department Lt. Nate Conrad and firefighter/paramedic Alan Angstrom pose for a photo with 10-year-old Connor Brokaw on Saturday. Brokaw and his family were leaving for a Make-A-Wish trip to St. Louis and the Fire Department came by his home for a send-off.

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