March 22, 2023

An adorable three-year-old boy and his family faced one of life’s painful battles when he was diagnosed with cancer. Throughout the challenges, the little one’s smile never faded because of the kind New York firefighters who welcomed him as one of their own.

Trucker Dukes grew up in Hawaii admiring his dad, Josh Dukes, who worked as a firefighter. The youngster loved the big red trucks and looked forward to wearing his mini-fireman costume whenever possible.

The Dukes family was heartbroken when they learned their little man was sick. Trucker was only two at the time and had stage 4 cancer. He spent months away from home getting treatment in New York with his mom by his side.

The Little Boy’s Dream
Shauna Dukes knew her son dreamed about working for the fire department when he was older. It was not surprising because his connection with fire stations started when he was born. The mom shared:

“When he was born, we did most Sundays at the fire station. When he got sick — he was really just a baby — the only thing that lit him up was the fire truck, when he would hear sirens outside.”

The Kindness of Strangers
Knowing Trucker might never get the chance to see his goals of becoming a firefighter materialize saddened Shauna. She never expected a group of strangers to show up and grant Trucker’s wishes.

But that’s precisely what happened when the New York Fire Department team at 85th Street Fire House, Engine 22, Ladder 13, Battalion 10, learned of the little boy’s story.

The firefighters quickly became like family and Shauna couldn’t believe what happened next. New York Fire Commissioner Daniel A. Nigro was touched by little Trucker’s journey and gave him an experience he would never forget.

The Unexpected Gesture
To Shauna and Trucker’s surprise, fire trucks were lined up outside their building when they arrived home one day in 2016. The youngster couldn’t contain his joy and ran towards the commotion, leaping into Captain James Grismer’s arms.

The Captain was thrilled and shared that the moment was remarkable, and witnessing how much it meant to Trucker was priceless. The little one’s face lit up, and the embrace was like something out of a movie. Grismer added:

“I see this little boy excitedly walking towards me with his eyes aglow. I opened my arms and he basically climbed up and hugged me around the neck. It was as if we’ve been friends/brothers for years.”

The surprise visit meant the world to Trucker, and he enjoyed every minute of looking at the trucks and seeing inside the world of the men and women from the New York Fire Department. Little did he know there was still more to be excited about.

Nothing Stopped the Firefighters from Spreading Love
The kindness of the firefighters was endless. They also welcomed Trucker to their station for his third birthday, where he was their guest of honor.

This allowed Trucker and his mom to focus on something other than his illness. Living away from the rest of their family was also challenging, so any piece of happiness they got was precious.

Shauna was in awe of the firefighters and their dedication to Trucker. Nothing stopped them from investing in his life and ensuring he knew they cared. When Trucker was too sick to visit, the team brought meals and love to his hospital.

Making His Dream a Reality
The firefighters quickly became like family and Shauna couldn’t believe what happened next. New York Fire Commissioner Daniel A. Nigro was touched by little Trucker’s journey and gave him an experience he would never forget.

Trucker was sworn in as an honorary member of FDNY’s Brooklyn headquarters, making him a proud member of New York’s Bravest and he enjoyed the celebratory ceremony on Randall’s Island.

The Emotional Event
The moment was emotional for Shauna who thanked everyone for showing up and honoring her little boy. The audience also cheered as Trucker and his father walked across the stage.

The memorable event included the singing of the national anthem, time for prayer, and a speech before Trucker put his hand on the bible and said the oath. Trucker also received a plaque and uniform, which he treasured dearly.

The people at the fire department helped the Dukes family beyond compare. With the amount of love they showered on Trucker, Shauna knew they would be their friends for life.

Trucker’s Passing
On March 3, 2017, the moment everyone had been dreading arrived. Little Trucker passed away peacefully in his mom’s arms. The family was devastated but thankful for the memory bank filled with precious moments.

While Trucker’s death was the hardest thing they ever faced, and they missed him terribly, there was a silver lining. Trucker saw one of his biggest dreams come true—he became a junior firefighter!

It was the family’s hope that Trucker’s story would encourage others to cherish their time with their loved ones. On their community Facebook page, a statement read:

“We are going to honor him and live our lives as better dads, moms, siblings, husbands, wives and people of God. We love you little warrior. Run free in heaven with no pain, no tears, no suffering!!”

The Dukes family set out to inspire people after Trucker’s passing. Their plans included an RV road trip with stops to perform random acts of kindness.

The family adventure was called #TruckerRidesWithUs, and it allowed the youngster’s loved ones to bless others and ensure Trucker’s legacy lived on.

Click here for another inspiring story about firefighters going the extra mile for a hurting child. The little boy from Arizona lost his parents in a car accident, so the firefighting team did whatever possible to comfort him.

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