SEEKONK, Mass. (WPRI) — After reading about a six-year-old Rhode Island boy battling leukemia for a second time in his short life, a firefighter from Virginia Beach traveled 600 miles to help Tyler Seddon celebrate his seventh birthday.
Before he left for his 10-hour journey, John Straseskie collected dozens of patches, coins and other memorabilia from fellow firefighters to present to Tyler.
“I really felt compelled to help at that point, and when I read a little bit more and I saw that we share the same birthday, it was a no brainer – I was going to make a road trip to Rhode Island,” Straseskie said. “You get called to go and called to serve. You don’t always know why and it’s not always going to be convenient for you. You just have to go.”
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Tyler, who is in the midst of a second battle with cancer, is fascinated by police, firefighters and first responders. His mother put out a message on social media, asking local emergency crews to send her son birthday cards. However, that request went viral and eventually a huge birthday party, complete with caravan, was planned in Tyler’s honor.
Straseski brought plenty of gifts from his friends in the Navy, his church and fire department. But he said one gift was the most special – a helmet from a retired district chief who also survived cancer.
“He included a nice letter for Tyler in the webbing of the helmet, a nice letter of encouragement to him and his family,” Straseski said.