Chief Perez for the day: McAllen Fire Department grants wish for child battling brain tumor

2 years 9 months 2 weeks ago Sunday, May 09 2021 May 9, 2021 May 09, 2021 2:01 PM May 09, 2021 in News - Local

Like most kids his age, 4-year-old Justin Perez loves the sight of a bright red fire truck.

Battling a brain tumor for half his life, he’s stronger than most, but Justin’s mom Laura Moreno says the fight hasn’t been easy. It’s been a trying two years for the family, with long drives to and from Houston for treatment.

“It’s hard,” she said. “You never know what the next day brings.”

Rough days are not unfamiliar to McAllen Fire Chief Jim Schultz.

“We exist to respond to people’s, usually, their worst day ever,” he said.

While at the hospital, Moreno heard about Make-A-Wish Rio Grande Valley, and when Justin was selected, he had only one request— to be a firefighter.

The nonprofit quickly got to work, making phone calls to help make Justin’s wish come true.

Within a few hours, the McAllen Fire Department had a plan to take Justin’s dream a step further.

“He requested to be a firefighter,” Shultz said. “We didn’t make him a firefighter today, we made him chief for the day.”

An honor guard from McAllen, pipes and drums from the city of Pharr, and a helicopter ride from state troopers helped make Justin’s dream come true.

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