For a child, there is no loss quite as great as that of a parent. Mothers and fathers are the solid centers of their kids’ lives.
So when one of them passes away, it can rock a little life to its core. Suddenly a son or daughter comes to understand the precariousness of existence.
That can lead to great sorrow. However, sometimes it prompts an equal amount of admiration.
Ten-year-old Evan Potter lost his father, Michael, in 2016. According to KYW-TV, Michael Potter was a firefighter and a veteran of the Marine Corps.
“It’s been weird not having him around,” Evan said. So the young man decided to do something to keep his dad’s memory alive.
“If we would go on vacation somewhere, (Michael) always visited the fire station and got a patch or a t-shirt and he gave one from Philly,” Amanda Potter, Evan’s mother and Michael’s wife, said. So Evan decided to collect as many patches as possible to put on his corkboard prior to Christmas.
Little did Evan know that his simple desire had soon gone viral. In fact, Philadelphia’s Engine 33 took on his task as their own.
“We heard that his son is really getting into the firefighter aspect and we talked to his mother Amanda and she agreed to let us make Christmas for them,” firefighter Charles Sgrillo said. “I had one guy offer me his whole collection (of patches) that he has been collecting for 30 years.”
What’s more, the collection efforts soon went far beyond that local fire station. According to the Dayton Daily News, they soon had collected 100 patches by November.
Engine 33 soon found itself positively swimming in thousands of patches. Even the firefighters themselves were shocked.
Firefighter Derek Moffett told KMOV, “Everyday it was bins and bins coming in. It was astonishing. It really was.”
But do you know what the best part of the entire thing was? Amanda Potter and all the firefighters managed to keep it hidden, and Evan didn’t have a clue.
“It was a big secret we didn’t want to ruin it for him, so I had to keep him off the internet, and he wasn’t allowed to watch TV,” Potter said. The delivery occurred on Christmas Eve.
A firetruck gussied up to look like a sleigh pulled up to Evan’s home, and Santa Claus delivered them to him. Evan ended up with thousands of patches and was even named an honorary firefighter in multiple states.
The only dilemma now is what to do with them. “I have a whole dining room full of patches,” Amanda Potter said.
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