Firefighters replace toys for B.C. toddler with leukemia after car fire
VANCOUVER - What started as a call about a car fire ended in an act of kindness the parents of a B.C. toddler battling cancer won't forget.
The Stanleys' story began with a fever.
The family from Armstrong, B.C., took two-year-old Finnley to see a doctor in the summer, because his temperature was higher than normal, and suffering from night sweats.
"We went to emergency three times," his mother, Jennell, told CTV News Thursday.
The third time, staff at the hospital in Salmon Arm did a blood test. The toddler tested positive for leukemia.
"We were put on a jet about 15 minutes later," she said.
The family was flown to BC Children's Hospital in Vancouver, about 450 kilometres away.
That was July 1. The family had to move into Vancouver's Ronald McDonald House, a place that just a few months ago had never crossed their minds.
Since then, the young boy has had several intense chemotherapy treatments.
Fortunately, Finnley's small body is accepting the treatment, but some days are difficult.
"It's hard to watch him go through the tough stuff," Jennell said.
Last Friday was one of those days, so on Saturday, Finnley's parents treated him and his five-year-old sister to lunch in the North Vancouver neighbourhood of Deep Cove.
"On our way back, we were merging off of Dollarton Highway onto (the Ironworkers Memorial Bridge). Our 2013 Santa Fe, it died," said Finnley's father, Jordan.
They called a tow truck and moved away from the vehicle. It burst into flames as they waited.
"It was fully involved within about four or five minutes before the fire department could even get there," he said.
Vancouver firefighters were able to extinguish the blaze, but inside the vehicle were toys, car seats and other belongings, some of which were of sentimental value.
Among the items were two quilts made by family and friends, meant to provide comfort for Finnley and his sister during what has been a difficult time for the family.
Firefighters were able to save the quilts, but most of the items were destroyed.
"We salvaged what we could," said Vancouver Fire Rescue Services spokesperson Jonathan Gormick.
They brought all items they could save back to the family.
"Cleaned it up, dried it off, and hopefully brightened up the kids' days little bit in what's definitely a stressful situation," Gormick said.
They didn't stop there. The Stanleys were invited to the station for dinner, and found that the firefighters had replaced some of the burned toys.
"Any small gesture that seems insignificant to you can make a huge impact in someone else's life," Gormick said.
"I can't imagine the stress they're going through right now. To see them pull through with a positive attitude and be in good spirits is inspiring."
But that's how the Stanley family copes, they said. After Finnley got sick, something like a car fire didn't seem as significant.
"We've learned to kind of take things as they come," Jennell said.
Jennell and Jordan say they're thankful to firefighters for helping them when they needed it, but added they had one request from the public.
"If I could say anything to anybody watching, give blood," said Jordan. Finnley had seven or eight transfusions in his first two weeks alone.
And he added one more thing: "Give the emergency personnel space when they're doing their job. Give them credit. They really do an amazing job and they put their lives on the line."