A future fireman had a lot of surprise visitors last Thursday.

On Oct. 1, Make-A-Wish® Greater Pennsylvania and West Virginia, in partnership with the community of Lansing and the Trusted Choice Independent Insurance Agents of West Virginia, hosted a parade and granted the wish of three-year-old Axel Perdue at the New River Gorge Visitor Center in Lansing and in the community of Ames Heights.

Axel, who suffers from Fanconi anemia, his mother and father, Melissa and Dave Perdue, and family members and friends watched in awe as a parade of fire trucks, motorcycles, police cars, antique cars and other vehicles passed through Ames Heights Thursday to help create a joyous day for Axel, a fire truck lover who wants to be a fireman when he grows up. The Perdues reside in Winona.

The Fayette County community has rallied around Axel and came out in force for the parade. Local fire departments sent fire trucks. State Police and local police agencies sent cruisers. The Mustang Club had antique cars participating in the parade, and local motorcycle clubs took part.

Also during the day, the Trusted Choice Independent Insurance Agents of West Virginia (IIAWV) announced a $7,500 grant to Make-A-Wish® Greater Pennsylvania and West Virginia at the event. The grant will be used to help fulfill the wishes of children with life-threatening medical conditions.

Axel's mother, Melissa, was grateful for the outpouring of support for her son, who's had a rough go of it in his early life.

"About a year ago, he was diagnosed with Fanconi anemia," she said as passers-by honked and waved while driving through the community Thursday. "It's a rare blood disease that causes leukemia, causes bone marrow to shut down and it causes several other cancers throughout the body.

"He'd been in the hospital pretty much the first two years in his life. They couldn't figure out what was going on. At one point, he almost died and they didn't think he was going to make it. Then they came up with a diagnosis."

"This is kind of bittersweet that he has to have a Make-A-Wish, but we're thankful for everybody that came out and was part of it," Perdue added.

Nuttall Fire Department Lt. Jeff Martin, an overall 36-year fire department veteran who also said he loved fire trucks when he was growing up, said participating in the special day "means a whole lot."

"It just makes you feel good when you can help a little kid out like that and make his day," Martin said.

Email: skeenan@register-herald.com or follow on Twitter @gb_scribe

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