BUCKEYE, Ariz. — Buckeye first responders answer all kinds of calls, but the one they answered Thursday morning made a little girl’s dream come true.
The men and women of the Buckeye police and fire departments built a new playset for 5-year-old Andrea Ortega, who is battling rhabdomyosarcoma, a form of pediatric cancer.
“It opens up their heart and makes them feel happy. This will show this little girl that she has the community support, police support and SWAT support,” said Hector Vargas, member of the Buckeye Police SWAT Team.
“This gives them the opportunity not to think about their illness, not to think about the doctors’ appointments, cancer. They can just go out into the backyard and have a good time and be a kid,” said Matt Thomas, an engineer with the Buckeye Fire Department.
The Roc Solid Foundation puts on about 100 events like this around the country for families battling pediatric cancer. Wienerschnitzel was the donor for this particular project.
“When they're diagnosed with cancer, they lose the ability to go and play at a playground because they are susceptible to getting sick. So, we bring the playground to them,” said Gabriel Perez, director of program for Roc Solid Foundation.
Cancer is something that really hits home for many of the firefighters working on the surprise.
“Seeing coworkers that have had cancer and seeing what they go through, grown men, strong. To think about a child doing this, this is something we definitely wanted to be involved with,” said Thomas.
Andrea was a little shy with all the excitement, but it didn't take long for her to warm up to her new playset.
“To see her build some memories here. Unfortunately, other families that have their children, pediatric cancer, don't make it, but fortunately, we are very thankful,” said Gisela Vargas, Andrea’s mother.