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12/29/03 - Canton

Disabled Boy Gets Gift He Never Imagined

Seven-year-old Justin Dearing doesn't let anything slow him down, not even Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy.

"He doesn't run real well, and it's hard for him to get up," Ken Dearing, Justin's father, said. "He can't keep up with his friends."

Jasmine, a golden retriever-labrador mix, helps Justin with everyday tasks and also keeps him company. Justin's father says recently, his son started having problems digesting his food so doctors had to put in a feeding tube. But even with every new difficulty, Justin still holds on to the dream that one day, he'll get to be a firefighter.

"I want to be like him," Justin said.

"He idolizes what his father does for a living," Robert Dearing, Justin's uncle, said. "Now, due to his condition, the likelihood of that is not good. So I wanted to make sure to where he could experience everything he wanted to in life. One way to do that was to have his own fire truck to where he can fight fires, respond to calls, everything like that, even if they're at his house."

"My brother, Robert Dearing, asked him what he wanted for Christmas," Ken said. He told him it was a 4-wheeler. He ended up building a fire truck out of all that."

A fire truck that has a real water hose, a ladder, switches to turn on lights, and Justin's own personalized license plate. Canton police officer Robert Dearing says he couldn't have done it without the generous support of community members and local businesses. Many of them gathered this evening to watch Justin try out his new fire truck, with his sisters and friends in tow.

"I feel happy," Justin said. "I think it's exciting."

If there's ever a fire at the Dearing house, Justin says he'll be there to fight it.

Justin Dearing's family will be participating in The Great Walk, put on by the Muscular Dystrophy Association. The 5K walk will raise money to benefit muscular dystrophy research. It begins at 8 a.m., Jan. 31, at Grapevine Mills Mall in Grapevine. If you're interesting in learning more, call the MDA at 972-480-0011.

Julie Tam, reporting.

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