By Ruben Lowman and Andrea Maestre
Bryson Jones is a very special young boy.
And last Friday afternoon he was treated to his very own special ride-by parade from North Myrtle Beach police officers, firefighters and volunteers from the Make-A-Wish Foundation, who all wanted to give him some hope and encouragement right now.
We first reported on his story early last year, shortly after he learned that the Make-A-Wish Foundation would be turning his dream of going to Disney World into a reality.
At the time Bryson, who suffers from pulmonary hypertension and has spent most of his life in the hospital, was still recovering from the heart transplant he received over the previous summer and was not yet healthy enough to make the trip to see Mickey, Minnie and all his favorite superheroes.
So, the North Myrtle Beach Department of Public Safety decided to step in and help make another one of his dreams come true in the meantime.
He received a visit at home from city police officers and firefighters, the real-life heroes he adores so much, and was brought down and given a full tour of the police precinct and fire station.
Bryson was given several gifts personalized just for him and he got the chance to do all the fun stuff kids love, like riding in a patrol car and spraying down targets with the big water hose.
Bryson is now healthy enough to make the journey to Orlando but the coronavirus pandemic has temporarily brought the world to a halt.
In place of that and with social distancing and social gathering restrictions removing any possibility of interacting closely, the Public Safety Department and Make-A-Wish Foundation came up with a creative way to honor him and lift his spirits during this difficult time.
They organized a special ride-by parade of a convoy of police cars, SUVs and fire trucks, and included a demonstration of the fire truck’s ladder that looked more like a performance.
It may have lacked the intimacy of previous visits, but the warmth, happiness and positive energy emanating from everyone involved, most of all Bryson himself, more than made up for it.
There was also a lot of flashing lights, sirens, horns blowing and music, accompanied by enthusiastic clapping and smiles, all centered on making the little man of the hour feel the love that the community has for him.
His mother, Salanda Jones, expressed gratitude and appreciation for everything that has been done for her son. “It just brightened my day, it really did,” she said. “I was just very grateful and very emotional just to see how many people actually cared and came out just for him.”