Like many teenage boys, 14-year-old Joey Abt has a fascination with firefighters and their gear.
He never realized that fascination would gain worldwide attention.
It’s hard to imagine that a basement full of fire coats, turnout gear, helmets and patches can change the way you think about the world.
A few years ago, Joey’s family created a Facebook post in support of him after he fell severely ill. His mother said while he was recovering in the hospital, he started listening to the scanners.
“From there he wanted to go to all the Syracuse fire departments, so we started taking him to all the stations in Syracuse,” said Diane Abt, Joey’s mother.
As his love for firefighters grew, he quickly made a list of departments he wanted to visit.
“So we started going one by one and that’s where he met Dave and Nick,” said Joey’s mother.
Life as young Joey had once known, would change forever.
To understand, let’s start with Nick, a firefighter and Joey’s best friend. When Nick first met Joey, he posted a special request on Facebook.
“I just explained Joey’s story and how his goal was to reach as many fire stations in upstate New York as possible and if anyone had an extra shirts and patches they wouldn’t mind parting ways with, Joey would love it,” said firefighter Nick Legere.
Legere never imagined it would grow into a basement turned fire station in Nick’s home.
Hats, shirts, patches from stations across the world adorn the wall from firefighters across the globe. There are also letters from stations as far as Australia.
“It gets me emotional at times just seeing how open people are and how willing they are to help out. It proves there are so many good people still out there,” said Legere.
Like Firefighter Dave Vivenzio who gave Joey, perhaps the best Christmas gift he could ask for.
“Joey’s favorite fire station in the city of Syracuse is station 8 so I wanted to try to duplicate that for him and in the process, this is what we came up with,” said Vivenzio.
He built a makeshift fire garage in Joey’s basement. He also presented him with a customized sweatshirt from Race Services, Incorporated out of Watkins Glen International.
But this visit among brothers wouldn’t be complete without Joey showing off his own small fire truck, complete with sirens.
The story of Joey Abt, can teach us all a lesson or two about kindess, dedication and humanity.