Eleven-year-old Rebecca Shelton loves to swim.
“We’ve taken her swimming ever since she was a baby,” says her mother, Jennifer Shelton, of Fouke, Ark. “But she’s never gotten to swim at her house.”
That will change Sunday. Bossier City and Genoa, Ark., firefighters plan to build in a day a handicap-accessible swimming pool — complete with a deck and a ramp — for Rebecca, who has a cholesterol deficiency, as part of a wish program for children with life-threatening medical conditions.
“She’ll be swimming by Sunday afternoon,” said Bossier City firefighter Kevin Bragg, who operates an above-ground pool installation service with fellow firefighter Ashton Poole,
The Kids Wish Network reached out to him earlier this month to help fulfill Rebecca’s wish. He and Poole agreed to donate the installation, which typically runs about $2,000.
Fellow firefighters and the district fire chief heard of their plans and wanted to know how they could help, Bragg said.
Mike Adams and Christian Burrus, fellow firefighters who operate a side construction business, offered to build an accompanying deck with hand rails and a wheelchair access ramp to the pool. A company they often use, Shreveport-based Custom-Bilt Cabinet and Supply, donated the wood for the deck and ramp.
Bragg was greeted with similar eagerness to help by the Genoa Fire Department when he called to say they’d be in town installing the pool. Genoa’s fire chief suggested that his department transport the water to fill up the pool so it would be immediately ready to use, Bragg said.
Jessica initially may be a little scared by the noise and number of people at their home, her mother said. “But I think once she realizes what they’re doing she going to be so excited.”
Firefighters naturally want to help people, Bragg said, and it’s nice to be able to do it outside a stressful situation.
Rhonda Erlo, who coordinated Rebecca’s wish, praised the outreach of the different communities as phenomenal. “I’ve been struck how everyone has been willing to participate — and for a little girl they don’t even know.”