Boy made honorary Wildwood City fire chief before he loses eyesight

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Watch the report from Nora Muchanic on Action News at 6 p.m. on Aug. 11, 2017. (WPVI)

It was a dream come true for 4-year-old Jackson Mitchell, who's been sworn in as an honorary chief of the Wildwood City Fire Department.

He's always wanted to be a firefighter.

Jackson, who is autistic and has a number of health problems, suffers from a hereditary disease that will soon rob him of his eyesight.

"If his eyesight stayed where it is now he will never be able to be a fireman and I know that's his dream. That's why he wears red glasses," said his mother, Christy.

Jackson is among Wildwood's first class of fire cadets. He went through the weeklong training program learning about the equipment and skills firefighters need to have, including water rescue.

"He's been doing everything. Nothing has slowed him down," said Bill Cripps of the Wildwood City Fire Dept. "Whatever medically he has, he has not let that slow him down. He's phenomenal. He's a great motivation for the kids."

Jackson is legally blind right now and in a little more than a year he'll lose all of his sight. But his parents are hoping experiences like this will live in his mind's eye.
"Go see as many places as we can and let him experience as much as he can so he knows what it's like when he can't see anymore," said his dad, Jasen.

"I don't know the day his eyesight's gonna go, unfortunately, so we are going to try to show him everything I can to get him to remember," said Christy.

That includes a cruise sponsored by the Make-A-Wish Foundation.

"To be able to do something for a local kid, especially with the horrible diagnosis that he has and to make his dream come true, is really an honor," said Wildwood City Fire Chief Dan Speigel.

"I just called and said, 'Can my son get a ride,' and this is what we ended up with," Christy said.
Jackson's mom says she can't thank the fire department enough for making her son's dream come true and giving Jackson memories that will last long after his vision is gone.

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