Tony Maschino was a three-year-old boy like any other, with eyes full of stars and infinite dreams. One of them was to become a firefighter. “This is something he truly loves. He’s always been a fan of the Police and Fire departments. We’d be driving down the street and he’d be wanting to put his window down to wave to them,” Stephanie, his mother, said.
He was the ultimate joy in her life, so her world was totally shattered in October 2016 when a seemingly minor accident ended up revealing a much more serious problem.
Find out more about this sad yet heartwarming story in this video:
When Tony fell and hurt himself, his parents brought him to the hospital. They were worried, but felt sure that their little boy was in good hands and would be all right. But then came the shock — while examining Tony the doctors made a tragic discovery: he had brain cancer and could only expect to live for another six months. The family was devastated.
Stephanie and Shawn had to start coming to terms with the incredible loss they were about to face. Tony was still with them and they knew they had to make the most of the precious time that he had left. His little body was succumbing to the cancer — he soon couldn’t walk anymore — but his mind was still as sharp and bright as ever. “He has not complained nor cried. He is simply incredible,” said his father.
The tragic story spread throughout the community and people were anxious to help in any way they could. Word eventually reached the Pittsfield Fire department where they also found out about Tony’s biggest dream: to become a firefighter. It didn’t take long for them to prepare a very special surprise for him and considering that Tony’s condition was worsening much faster than expected, it was a good thing that they acted quickly.
Tony was at home when he heard the noise of the sirens he liked so much. When he realized that the firefighters were coming for him with their four trucks and two cars, he couldn’t believe his eyes. But the surprise wasn’t just a ride in firetruck — Tony was actually made an honorary firefighter!
“It came from everybody. We are like a little family and we all came up with the idea,” Matthew Mazzeo, a member of the department, explained. Tony was given a plaque certifying his position as a firefighter, a complete set of equipment including a jacket with his name on it, and all kinds of toys.
Tony had to be carried from his home to the firetruck parked in front of the house but once inside there was no stopping him. He played with the lights and the sirens and didn’t want to stop. Everyone could see the joy in his eyes and for that look alone his parents will be forever thankful. “We are really grateful for opportunities like this. It is hard to take him out and about,” said his mother.
Robert Czerwinski, the head of the Fire department, is particularly proud of his team: “This little boy has suffered a lot. The family has suffered a lot. I’m glad we could be here for them. I’m glad the whole community has been there. There have been fundraisers and things going on in the community to support this family.”
Stephanie and Shawn were overwhelmed with the massive show of support from their community. Seeing Tony smiling in spite of his condition was the the most beautiful gift they could have ever received. And it came just in time. Just a few days after his big day as a firefighter, Tony lost his battle with cancer. It was a tragically short life, but at least his parents can now try to come to terms with the loss of their son knowing that his life’s dream had come true.
To have a loved one taken from us is always a tragedy, but even more so when they are taken so young. Tony’s life was short, but thanks to a caring community, it was also full. And hopefully their support will continue to help his parents deal with such an incredible loss.