'Our hero': New York firefighters to honor Maui boy who lost battle with cancer
NEW YORK CITY, NEW YORK (HawaiiNewsNow) - Almost exactly a year ago, Trucker Dukes, a 3-year-old boy from Maui, lost his battle to cancer. Trucker spent much of his fight in New York City at a top-ranked cancer center right next to a fire station.
There, the firefighters unofficially adopted him as one of their own.
This weekend, they will be having a special ceremony to add him to their wall of fallen heroes.
Trucker's roots may be from Maui, but his home for much of his life was in the Upper East Side of New York City.
The young aspiring firefighter was just 19 months old when he was diagnosed with stage four neuroblastoma back in 2015, which is by far the most uncommon cancer found in infants.
He had a 30 percent chance at making it to his 6th birthday.
Trucker and his mom, Shauna, moved to New York so Trucker could undergo treatment at a top-ranked cancer center that specializes in neuroblastoma.
Turns out, a fire station was nearby.
Trucker and the brave men of the New York City Fire Department Ladder 13, Engine 22 became instant friends.
"They all used to have mac and cheese on standby in their lockers in case we stopped by because that was Trucker's thing, mac and cheese with the boys, but they just became like family," Shauna Dukes said. "When we go to New York, it feels like we have 50 brothers. It's pretty special."
On May 31, 2016, Trucker officially became one of them -- an honorary firefighter with the FDNY.
"I know you already know how to be brave, so I'll make my parents proud of me, and I'll be the best junior firefighter I can be, welcome to the FDNY."
"To make the connection with the New York firefighters, the FDNY, and then have them kind of adopt our family and have that same aloha that we have over here, have it 3,000 miles or 3,500 miles, however many miles away it is, have that over there for my family, and know that my wife and my son are cared for and looked after and protected over there, just as much as they would be here, it's like too beautiful for me to explain or describe," Joshua Dukes said.
"If you talk to Capt. Jim or any of those firefighters, they were like, 'Trucker was our hero,'" Shauna Dukes added. "Everyone looks up to those guys, and to firefighters everywhere as heroes. But to them, you ask them and they were like, 'Trucker was our hero, everything he went through.'"
Copyright 2018 Hawaii News Now. All rights reserved.