04-22-2013, 12:42 PM #1
"The firemen are my friends. They are my family."
This is one outstanding kid!
AV boy makes difference in lives of firefighters
"The firemen are my friends. They are my family." — 10-year-old Dominic Cumo
April 04, 2013 7:30 PM
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Rebecca Howes, Staff Writer
APPLE VALLEY • Firefighters, family and friends gathered Thursday to recognize the extraordinary efforts of 10-year-old honorary Apple Valley Fire Protection District firefighter Dominic Cumo.
The Apple Valley boy secured a donation of 140 Tempur-Pedic mattresses for local fire stations — a donation worth approximately $200,000.
“In terms of donations, it’s such a huge thing for the community of the High Desert,” said Apple Valley Fire Chief Sid Hultquist. “Every fire station north of the Cajon Pass will get a new mattress.”
Firefighters formed a relationship with Dominic and his parents, Shawnee and Matteo, after responding to emergency calls at the Cumo residence due to Dominic’s medical condition.
Dominic is one of the youngest people ever diagnosed with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), also called Lou Gehrig’s Disease, a progressive neurodegenerative disease that affects nerve cells in the brain and the spinal cord.
ALS can strike anyone, and life expectancy of an ALS patient averages about two to five years from the time of diagnosis. Dominic was diagnosed at age 2.
“The boy never ceases to amaze me and inspire me,” said Shawnee Cumo. “He does not know how to give up.”
In 2011, as his disease progressed, Dominic had to undergo a tracheotomy at Loma Linda Medical Center so that he could breath with the aid of a ventilator. A year later, the Apple Valley firefighters hosted a spaghetti dinner at the station for Dominic to celebrate the one-year anniversary of his surgery and to offer him support.
“Most tracheotomy and ventilator patients (with ALS) pass away within a year,” Matteo Cumo explained. “Dominic made it through.”
Firefighters gave Dominic a tour of the firehouse, complete with a ride on a fire engine with the lights flashing and the siren blaring.
A tour of the area where the firefighters sleep made quite an impression on Dominic, but not in a good way.
“On the tour Dominic saw the beds at the station,” said Captain James “Buddy” Peratt. “He was disgusted. For Dominic to think about us and our needs, with his health situation, it’s unbelievable. “
Shawnee Cumo remembers him saying, “people that saved my life have to sleep here? They deserve the best.”
From that moment on Dominic and Matteo Cumo made it their mission to get better mattresses for the station, and Matteo Cumo wrote a letter and sent emails to Tempur-Pedic’s headquarters in Kentucky.
Originally the idea was to get six beds for the Apple Valley Fire station on Headquarters Drive. Then Matteo Cumo realized there was more than one station in Apple Valley, which meant that they would need 27 beds, not six.
Matteo Cumo was told it didn’t matter if there were six beds or 27, the truck to transport the mattresses would cost the same either way, and it could fit up to 140 beds. With that information, the mission to supply beds to all fire stations of the Victor Valley was born.
Of the 140 mattresses donated, 130 will go to fire stations in Adelanto, Apple Valley, Hesperia and Victorville. The remaining 10 will go to ALS patients, according to Matteo Cumo.
“Tempur-Pedic is honored to provide these brave men and women with comfortable beds, allowing them to properly serve deserving community members like Dominic Cumo,” said Dan Setlak, vice president of marketing for Tempur-Pedic.
The ALS Guardian Angel Foundation assisted Dominic in securing the donation of the Tempur-Pedic mattresses.
“The firemen are my friends. They are my family,” Dominic said when asked why it was important to him to get the mattresses donated. “They have done so much for me. Now, I’m doing something for them.”
Lisa Jones Wyhlidko, representing the foundation, began to cry as she addressed the crowd and Dominic.
She told him, “You make the world a better place.”
Rebecca Howes can be reached at RHowes@VVDailyPress.com or at 760-951-6276."The education of a firefighter and the continued education of a firefighter is what makes "real" firefighters. Continuous skill development is the core of progressive firefighting. We learn by doing and doing it again and again, both on the training ground and the fireground."
Lt. Ray McCormack, FDNY
04-22-2013, 12:59 PM #2
And hey, Tempur-Pedic is based in Kentucky! Yay for us!
But of course, most of all, yay for Dominic! Great kid.“I am more than just a serious basketball fan. I am a life-long addict. I was addicted from birth, in fact, because I was born in Kentucky.”
― Hunter S. Thompson
04-22-2013, 06:52 PM #3
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Great story. !!
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