Kayla and son Jaxon Butts have their photo taken with local Rapattack members who provided them with a short ride in a fire services helicopter. (Contributed)

Kayla and son Jaxon Butts have their photo taken with local Rapattack members who provided them with a short ride in a fire services helicopter. (Contributed)

Salmon Arm firefighters help fill adventure wishlist of child in palliative care

Ride in Rapattack helicopter arranged for 4-year-old Jaxon Butts

By Barb Brouwer


Salmon Arm firefighters do more than fight fires; sometimes, they help make wishes come true too.

Jaxon Butts was born with a rare chromosomal abnormality that requires complex palliative care. He turned four in June, a milestone his family thought might never happen.

In May, the family was able to bring him home where his mom, Kayla, and grandparents Brandi and Rod deliver care in 12-hour shifts. The family has spent thousands of dollars acquiring sophisticated equipment needed to properly care for Jaxon.

One of the items needed was a paediatric hospital bed. While they had a line on one, it was in Kelowna and the Butt’s had no way to get it here on their own.

When they heard the family needed help, the community of local firefighters and other volunteers worked together to make it happen.

Members of the Kelowna Fire Department loaded the bed onto a truck provided by local ReMax realtor Jeff Stacer. On arrival here, 12 members from the fire department’s four halls moved the 500-pound bed into the Butts’ home through a window, which was removed and replaced by Trademark Glass.

“We had put it out to whoever was available and it was pretty easy to get firefighters out,” said Tyler Stevenson, a lieutenant at Hall 2. “It was a case of the more the merrier, but we had too many, which is better than not enough.”

“It’s just been so much community love; everyone pulled together,” said Brandi. “Having the ICU bed has just been a godsend and has helped so much in Jaxon’s care.”

And the giving continued when Stevenson heard the Butts were hoping to receive 100 cards delivered for Jaxon’s birthday. Thanks to firefighters and Shuswap Float and Wellness owner Kate Bischke, Jaxon received 145 cards that gave family members a much-needed boost when they read them together.

Many of the cards were delivered to the family’s home in Engine 3 so Jaxon could have the experience of being in a fire truck.

“We touched base with the family because we wanted to go on one of Jaxon’s better days,” said Stevenson. “He actually was a little more aware when he was in there, looked at the camera a few times and reacted quite well.”

Then came another adventure as Stevenson arranged for Jaxon to get a short ride in a Rapattack helicopter because the cold, wet weather has, so far, quelled wildfire season.

Read more: Four-year-old son’s medical needs take priority over new roof for Salmon Arm mom

Read more: Salmon Arm’s Top 20 Under 40: Kayla Butts

Brandi said daughter Kayla, a single mother, developed a wishlist of adventures so the family could create memories of Jaxon in places other than a hospital bed.

Other wishes include, going fishing with Grandpa, going for a boat ride, riding on a tractor and flying a kite.

“When you’re dealing with something so unimaginable as a child being palliative, it’s about finding moments of joy,” said Brandi. “The firefighters aren’t just supporting wishes coming true, they’re taking some of the load off. It’s hard to live in a state of crisis all the time and these joyful moments make it so much easier.”

Members of the Salmon Arm Fire Department and Columbia Shuswap Regional District Fire Services are actively recruiting.

In Salmon Arm, those interested can “dip their toes in the water” by turning up at any of the four halls at 7 p.m. on Tuesday nights. For more information, call 250-803-4060.

CSRD Fire Services Co-ordinator Sean Coubrough said his 13 departments and 14 firehalls recruit constantly. For more information, go online to csrd.bc.ca.

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

firefightersSalmon Arm