Owego, NY (WBNG Binghamton) Young Billy Huddleston had a wish for Owego firefighters as they continue to mourn the loss of Capt. Matthew Porcari, who died while fighting a blaze last month.
In a letter penned in the days that followed Porcari's death, Billy, 5, said he wanted them to feel better, and that he'd be willing to help with "cookies or eggs or visiting you to tell jokes."
It was a touching tribute to a department reeling from the loss of their 34-year-old captain.
On Tuesday, they repaid the favor by making their firehouse the best playground a 5-year-old could imagine.
"Everything in the letter that he wrote was his idea," said Maria Huddleston, Billy's mother.
Needless to say, Billy couldn't wait.
"Every day it was' Momma when are we going to the fire station? When are we going to the fire station,'" Maria Huddleston said.
Porcari's uncle Lee Dunham, a Lieutenant with the Owego Fire Department, said the letter helps the healing process.
"It brought tears to my eyes when I read how he wanted to come and bring us cookies or eggs or come and tell jokes. For a 5-year-old kid to write that and be that interested in our fire department, especially Capt. Matt Porcari, it's just overwhelming," Dunham said.
It reminded the firefighters that even in the midst of tragedy, kids still want to grow up to be just like them.
"Just to see their smiles and their enthusiasm just about the fire service alone. Made me feel good," Dunham said.
"It really hit us hard," Owego Fire Chief Ed Franz said of Porcari's death. "And we were so happy to see him come down and see where Capt. Porcari's station was, his equipment, where he sat. It really touched our hearts.
DEAR OWEGO FIREMEN:
I love you guys because I really love your fire trucks. I am so sad your firefighter died and I love you guys. I'm 5 yrs old and when I grow up I'm gonna move into your fire station because I want to be a firefighter.
Is there anything I can give you to make you feel happy again, like cookies or eggs or visiting you to tell jokes. Maybe a blanket or a present.
I loved Captain Matthew Porcari. Call my Mom if you need me.