firefighterJason Eagan lives a block from the fire station and dreamed about becoming a fireman since his was young. One day, he walked into that fire station in Sandoval, Illinois and asked for an application to become a firefighter. He passed the firefighters’ physical. Paperwork was filled out, and after some deliberation on the part of the other firefighters, it became official: Jason was a firefighter under cadet guidelines. He even has his own fire suit and helmet.

That was a year ago. Though Jason doesn’t go into burning buildings or engage in perilous rescues, he’s otherwise a full-fledged member of the department. He trains with the other firefighters. He helps with chores at the station. He helps at fundraisers and with charity events, such as Toys for Tots. At a fire, he might help roll up hoses afterward, or go get the exhaust fan off the truck. He helps get the trucks ready for service again after a call.

“We do have to kind of shelter him — what we do can be dangerous — but when he told me that was his dream his whole life, to be a firefighter, I couldn’t give up on him,” Matt Horn, a lieutenant in the fire department in Marion County, said. “I had to find a way to fit him into our fire department, and so far this seems to be working pretty good.”

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