What started with a single T-shirt has become a nationwide outpouring of support for a 2-year-old boy with cerebral palsy who happens to love firefighters.
Christopher Dumas is nothing short of a miracle. Born 12 weeks premature, the Quincy, Massachusetts, toddler spent 67 days in the NICU and was hospitalized three times during his first year. Shortly after he turned 1, Christopher received his diagnosis.
It has been an uphill battle for Christopher and his family, marked with daily therapy sessions. His parents, Chris and Siobhan, miss no opportunity to make their young son smile, so when they visited Las Vegas in July, they brought him back a shirt from the fire department.
Christopher was over the moon.
"With that shirt it sparked my idea of reaching out via email to fire departments around the country to build his collection," Siobhan Dumas wrote in a message to NBC Connecticut. "This was important to me to make this happen because due to his disability this is the closest Christopher will come to becoming a firefighter."
Christopher's aunt then connected with a Scituate, Massachusetts, firefighter named Tom Seery, who put out a call for fire shirts on his personal Facebook page. More than 800 people shared the post.
It was the spark that ignited a national initiative: Fire Shirts for Christopher.
In the past week alone, Christopher has received more than 100 shirts from departments around the country, including three in Connecticut: Canton, Rocky Hill and Waterford.
"This has been an absolute blessing for our son!" Dumas wrote.
First responders have also sent along patches – some cut from their own shirts – photographs, and handwritten notes full of kind words and well wishes. Siobhan Dumas said fire engines have even visited the family's house.
"From the men that come to our home on their day off just to give their support in the form of a high five or knuckles, to the ones sending Christopher the shirt off their back and to the guys who pass down their street beeping horn we thank you all for what you do for the community especially what you do for my little fire boy," Dumas wrote on Facebook. "Thank you all for being my son's hero!"
First responders who would like to send shirts or letters to Christopher can mail them to:
39 Hovey Street
Quincy, MA 02171