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‘It's important that we celebrate his life:’ Fire departments pay respects to 4-year-old honorary fire chief

1 month 1 week 17 hours ago Wednesday, June 23 2021 Jun 23, 2021 June 23, 2021 8:09 PM June 23, 2021 in News - Local

Firefighters said goodbye to one of their own Wednesday as honorary Fire Chief Justin Perez, 4, lost his battle with cancer.

“It's important that we celebrate his life, that we recognize who he was as an individual and how inspiring it was to see him as just this little boy, careless, doing what he loves,” McAllen Fire Department Assistant Fire Chief Juan Gloria said. 

Perez battled a brain tumor for half of his life. Last month, his wish of becoming a firefighter came true.

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

"He spent a full day at the fire station, cooking, responding to pretend calls, putting out an actual little fire that we set up for him,” Gloria said, adding that none of the firefighters who met Perez that day will ever forget his warm smile and the excitement in his eyes.

"I take with me the memories of him acting like nothing was affecting him, like nothing was bothering him,” Gloria said. “He had a smile, he was very engaging, he was interacting, he was running around…."

Gloria said Perez’s family is grateful for the outpouring of support and love from everyone who knew their little boy.

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