Making a wish come true

Swearing in Hayden Despenas as an honorary firefighter

MASON CITY, Iowa – A north Iowa boy was surprised with a once-in-a lifetime opportunity.

Firefighters with the Mason City Fire Department have made Hayden Despenas the newest honorary member of the department.

Doctors diagnosed the 10-year-old with a rare form of muscular dystrophy a few years back.

Fire Chief Bob Platts says that they are all amazed at what the boy has been through in his young life, and says that making him apart of the team only adds more strength to their crew.

Hayden arrived at the station this morning for what he thought would be a day of touring around and seeing fire trucks; what he didn’t know was that he would be leaving as a member of this established group.

Sarah Despenas, Hayden’s mom, says that this surprise has been in the works for a couple of months.

She says that the toughest part of it all was keeping such a huge secret from such a special kid, but she says that it was all worth it to see him grinning from ear to ear.

“After Hayden’s Make-A-Wish reveal in January, the guys started thinking about how neat it would be to make him an honorary firefighter,” she recalled. “He was so excited about getting a ride in the fire truck and having the lights on and everything. It was shortly after that they contacted us and said, ‘we’d really like to swear him in as an honorary firefighter, would he enjoy that?’ and I said ‘absolutely.’”

Hayden’s Hope, the Make-A-Wish foundation and the Mason City Fire Department all had a hand in making this dream come true.

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