Firefighters go 'above and beyond' for toddler with cancer and his Armstrong family - InfoNews

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Firefighters go 'above and beyond' for toddler with cancer and his Armstrong family

A Vancouver Fire Rescue Service member with Finnley and Mayelle Stanley.
Image Credit: Jennell Stanley
November 18, 2019 - 6:00 PM

It was an act of kindness that was greatly magnified for an Armstrong family living away from home while their two-year-old son undergoes cancer treatment.

When Jennell and Jordan Stanley's car burst into flames on the side of a Vancouver highway Nov. 9, firefighters not only extinguished the fire but upon learning why the family were in Vancouver, went the extra mile replacing toys destroyed by the blaze and extending an invite to the fire hall for dinner.

"I was just really amazed that they took the time to go above and beyond to do that," Jennell said. "It was incredible."

The Stanleys have been staying at the Ronald McDonald House in Vancouver since July when their two-year-old son Finnley was diagnosed with Leukemia.

"We took Finnley to our family doctor in Salmon Arm after he had a fever for 24 hours," Jennell said. One week later Finnley was diagnosed with Leukemia and immediately airlifted to the B.C. Children’s Hospital in Vancouver.

"After receiving the worst news we could have imagined, we were overcome with feelings of shock, fear, anger, denial and helplessness," Jennell said.

Their family doctor told them Leukemia is treatable and that a team of specialist doctors was already working on Finnley's case.

"In this moment, the only thing we had any control over was how we chose to react to this reality," Jennell said. "In this moment we chose optimism."

Since July, the family has been staying at the Ronald McDonald House in Vancouver, and Finnley, through ups and downs, has been responding well to treatment.

On Saturday, Nov. 9, for a treat, the family headed out for lunch in Deep Cove but on the way home their vehicle took a turn for the worst, leaving them stranded on the side of the Second Narrows Bridge. As they waited for a tow truck, the car burst into flames.

Vancouver Fire Rescue Services arrived on scene and extinguished the flames, even managing to save some sentimental quilts that were in the trunk of the car.

Vancouver Fire Rescue Services assistant fire chief David Boone said crew members noticed children's toys in the vehicle that were smoke damaged but salvageable.

"They decided to take it upon themselves to take some of those toys back to the fire hall to clean and dry off," Boone said. They then decided to surprise the family later that evening.

"They came by Ronald McDonald House and brought some of their toys and a few little gifts... and then they extended the invite to dinner the following evening," she said.

Jennell said in their situation, their actions were magnified.

"A small gesture goes a long way, and on the opposite spectrum, a poor attitude can easily be a tipping point," Jennell said.

Arriving at the fire hall the following day, firefighters had baked cookies, found material similar to the toys that were in the car and made playmats, then headed to the toy store to replace lost items.

"They took their personal time to do that kind of stuff, it really made such a difference for us," Jennell said.

Firefighters then showed Finnley and his five-year-old sister Mayelle around the fire hall.

"The kids were thrilled, as you can imagine any child would be, not only to get some of their toys back but to get the opportunity to interact with the people who put out the fire," Jennell said.

The family is incredibly appreciative of the help and support they've received - friends and family in Vancouver have rallied around to lend them a vehicle while their insurance claim is accessed - and Jennell asks anyone who is compelled to do something to do one thing.

"Give blood," she said. "Without it, a cure would not be possible."


To contact a reporter for this story, email Ben Bulmer or call (250) 309-5230 or email the editor. You can also submit photos, videos or news tips to the newsroom and be entered to win a monthly prize draw.

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