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Lifestyle & Human Interest

Little Boy with Cystic Fibrosis Became Garbage Man for Day Thanks to 1 Wish

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Many boys gravitate toward heavy machinery from a young age. Tractors, trucks, planes and trains — anything with oomph and power is a popular choice for starry-eyed young ones.

In 2016, 6-year-old Ethan from Rancho Cordova, California, had a fascination with a very particular kind of vehicle: garbage trucks. It’s a shared interest, with many children developing a passion for them thanks to the weekly appearance of the large, loud trucks.

Ethan’s situation was a little different than many children’s, though.

Since he was just 8 weeks old, he has been undergoing treatment for cystic fibrosis, a disease that gives its sufferers a median life expectancy of just 44 years.

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“I want him to have fun and not have to worry about the day-to-day,” his dad, Ken Dean, told Fox News four years ago. “It’s all about him.”

At the time, the Make-A-Wish Foundation helped arrange a special treat for the garbage-truck-obsessed kiddo, and what followed was a day that brought joy to more than just the recipient.

“When selecting his wish, one in particular stood out to him — to be a garbage man!” the Make-A-Wish Northeastern & Central California and Northeastern Nevada website shared. “He is a big fan of the garbage man, and loves to watch them come to pick up his trash.”

Ethan’s dad confirmed his son’s obsession.

“We pretty much knew it was going to be about garbage trucks,” Dean said. “He’s been watching them come down the street since he first learned how to crawl.”

So the date and the scene were set to give Ethan a wonderful day.

He showed up on a Tuesday at his elementary school, and from there he experienced five stops to give him a taste of that garbage man life, breaking for a news conference and lunch at the state capitol.

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“On July 26, 2016 Ethan was surprised at school when he was picked up in his very own garbage truck,” the Make-A-Wish website continued. “He received his own Waste Management uniform and name tag that he got wear all day.

“Ethan spent the next few hours ‘cleaning up’ Sacramento with the help of Waste Management and his Adopt-A-Wish sponsor, Randle Communications, in a garbage truck fittingly labeled ‘Ethan’s Garbage Truck.’ Superheroes welcomed Ethan at each stop where he learned the importance of recycling, reducing and reusing.”

John deBerge with Make-A-Wish pointed out that anyone can help make a child’s dreams come true.

“Ethan’s wish to be a garbage man for a day is a perfect example that anyone and everyone has the ability to grant a wish,” deBerge told ABC News.

“Today we saw a local garbage man alongside thousands from the community of Sacramento, join together to make a 6-year-old boy’s wish come true.”

The photos say it all: Ethan’s day as a garbage man will certainly stick with him for the rest of his life.

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Amanda holds an MA in Rhetoric and TESOL from Cal Poly Pomona. After teaching composition and logic for several years, she's strayed into writing full-time and especially enjoys animal-related topics.
As of January 2019, Amanda has written over 1,000 stories for The Western Journal but doesn't really know how. Graduating from California State Polytechnic University with a MA in Rhetoric/Composition and TESOL, she wrote her thesis about metacognitive development and the skill transfer between reading and writing in freshman students.
She has a slew of interests that keep her busy, including trying out new recipes, enjoying nature, discussing ridiculous topics, reading, drawing, people watching, developing curriculum, and writing bios. Sometimes she has red hair, sometimes she has brown hair, sometimes she's had teal hair.
With a book on productive communication strategies in the works, Amanda is also writing and illustrating some children's books with her husband, Edward.
Austin, Texas
Languages Spoken
English und ein bißchen Deutsch
Topics of Expertise
Faith, Animals, Cooking