WEST FELICIANA PARISH, LA — Imagine being told you have brain cancer. Now, imagine if you were given that news when you were in elementary school. That’s the reality for James “JJ” Walker, Jr., a third grader from a small town in West Feliciana Parish.
“JJ has been positive and brave throughout the experience,” James Woods, West Feliciana Fire Department, said. “It’s a tough ordeal for anyone with cancer, but especially for someone JJ’s age.”
Members of the fire department first learned about JJ and his condition when his mother called with a simple request.
“Last spring we were contacted by his mother,” Woods recalled. “She told us that he really liked firefighters and police officers and asked if we could come out to his birthday party.”
JJ’s birthday at his home in Hardwood became a community celebration, complete with fire trucks and police vehicles. As time continued, the fire department continued to receive news about JJ’s treatment at St. Jude Children’s Hospital. Although his battle is going well, the experience has forced JJ to deal with issues uncommon for those so young.
“One of the kids he was going through treatment with passed away recently, and he has taken it hard,” Woods noted. “It’s always hard for anyone to deal with loss, but this is especially difficult.”
In an attempt to lighten his spirits, as well as show JJ that he has a bright future ahead of him, the fire department created another special moment he will not soon forget. JJ was issued a certificate as an honorary firefighter. JJ’s honorary certificate notes “This certificate hereby certifies that the recipient has proven to have the qualities of bravery, courageousness, compassion and heart and is hereby recognized henceforth as a member of the brotherhood and sisterhood of Firefighters.”
“One of our captains put him in the fire truck and took him under his wing,” Woods said. “After he learned a few basic rope knots that are taught to firefighters, they went out and had ice cream at McDonalds.”
JJ was issued the honorary certificate on January 24, 2013.