N.O. firefighters grant wish to dying boy

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wwltv.com

Posted on May 12, 2014 at 6:29 PM

Updated Tuesday, May 13 at 10:32 AM

Meg Farris / Eyewitness News
Email: mfarris@wwltv.com | Twitter: @megfarriswwl

NEW ORLEANS - Members of a local family are grateful to the doctors at Children's Hospital for giving them two more Christmases and two more birthdays after their little boy was diagnosed with a terminal cancer in March 2012.

Friends and family were also on hand when he got one of his biggest wishes granted. 

New Orleans firefighters stood at attention behind their gear as their newest member, five-year-old Donoven Sharp, raised his hand to be sworn in while in the arms of this mother and father.  Chief Tim McConnell did the honors.

"On behalf of the city of New Orleans and the proud men and women of the New Orleans Fire Department, I promote you to the rank of firefighter," he said.  

Only 650 children in the U.S. are diagnosed each year with neuroblastoma, which is cancer in nerve tissues. Donnie is one of them.

"He's always told us that when he grows up, he will be a fireman just like his Pop Pop," said Donnie's mother Laura Sharp.  

Pop Pop is his grandfather, John Manning, who retired from this same engine house in Algiers, number 33. 

"It's very hard for a grandparent to see a daughter suffering and family suffering. It's heart wrenching to see a child with a child, with your grandchild, suffering this way," said  John Manning, Donoven's grandfather.

Donnie was supposed to sit in the jump seat of Hook and Ladder Number 6 to go for a ride, but because he had just come from radiation he was exhausted and in pain. But the firefighters at the station have promised him they'll take him on his first ride another time. 

"We don't ask for much. We just, when we need to be there, we're there as a family for any type of crisis," said Firefighter Al Juno, who worked with Manning for three decades. 

Members of the Woodland Presbyterian Church in Algiers, came for the honors.

"We are family and when we put the call out, that someone's in need, people show up," said Karen Yandle a family friend from the church. 

Donnie may not have gone through the physical strength tests required to save lives in a fire, but if bravery, courage and fortitude earn the privilege of wearing the badge, this little boy passed with flying colors. 

He has been treated at Children's Hospital by Dr. Lolie Yu, Chief of Pediatric Oncology at LSU Health Sciences Center.

Donnie is in hospice care now.

Five days ago, his church started an online site for donations for his medical bills and funeral. Already people have given $9,000. 

To donate:

http://www.gofundme.com/8yj25w

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