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Westmoreland boy lives dream despite disability

Posted by keshiaclukey on May 9, 2013 at 7:40 PM

Westmoreland boy lives dream despite disability

6-year-old honorary firefighter for day


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UTICA - Teagan O'Grady rang the fire engine bell over and over again with a smile from ear to ear.

His dream: to be a firefighter when he grows up.

"I rang the bell a lot of times," said the 6-year-old Westmoreland boy.

On Thursday, Teagan was a Utica Fire Department honorary firefighter for a day, riding in the fire engine, getting a tour of the city's fire stations and training facility, and even haveinglunch with firefighters.

"This is going to be super, super, super duper fun," Teagan said in the morning. "My favorite part is getting a ride."

Unfortunately, Teagan might never be able to be a professional firefighter - he has spastic diplegic cerebral palsy and can't walk on his own.

"It's a long shot, but we hope," said Ryan O'Grady, Teagan's father, who is a Westmoreland volunteer firefighter.

Born four months early, Teagan was only 1 pound 9 ounces, O'Grady said. Then, one night three weeks after he came into the world, he stopped breathing.

The lack of oxygen to his brain caused his condition.

"He doesn't let the disability get to him," O'Grady said. "Every day he wakes up with a smile and that's how he is from sun up to sun down."

O'Grady and his wife, Carrie, have since been searching for a way to help their son.

They recently found out Teagan is a good candidate for selective dorsal rhizotomy, a spinal surgery that could result in him being able to walk.

"It was a tough decision to make because it's so involved," O'Grady said. "But it's the only shot we've got at him walking and we want to give him the best chance he can have."

Teagan will be having the surgery June 25. The surgery entails being in the hospital in Syracuse for about eight weeks and then a year of rehabilitation.

Teagan already has plans for after the surgery, such as dunking a basketball, playing football and of course, becoming a firefighter.

Utica firefighter and family friend Joe Day helped arrange Teagan's honorary status after hearing about all he went through and that he wanted to see a fire truck.

"Why not give him a good day? If we can put a smile on somebody's face, what's better than that?" Day said.

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