PLAINFIELD, Ill. — There was no fire to fight, but a group of firefighters in Illinois answered the call to save a boy's birthday after only one friend made it out to his party last weekend.
All 7-year-old Dominic Giatras wanted for his birthday was a party with his friends. His parents rented GymQuest in Plainfield for a Saturday afternoon celebration, but the 20 guests he expected were no-shows.
Noreen Mattson was working the front desk at GymQuest, and said her heart sank after it became clear no one else would come.
“Ten minutes after the start of the party, we still didn’t have any guests," Mattson told WGN. “Five minutes later we had one guest show up, and twenty minutes later, he was still the only guest.”
Nobody's actually sure why the other kids didn't come, but Dominic's mom has been battling pneumonia, and that may have caused some confusion with the other parents.
Regardless, Mattson noticed other parents from a previous party were lingering in the lobby, one of whom was married to a Plainfield firefighter. After speaking with her, she decided to make sure that one wasn’t the loneliest number, and called the fire department.
“I called, I was a little emotional. I though they would think it was a crank call because it wasn’t an emergency," Mattson said.
When Plainfield Fire Department Lt. Eric Jensen got the call at the firehouse, he said everyone agreed they should do something.
“The look on everybody’s face was, ‘let’s go there and help out,'” Jensen said.
The Plainfield firefighters loaded up the engines and went straight for GymQuest.
“Nothing sadder than that: it’s lights and siren time," said Plainfield Fire Dept. Chief Jon Stratton. "Time to get over here and support that little guy.”
Dominic was at the door, shoulders slumped and head cast down. But all a party RSVP needs is a first responder, and five minutes after leaving the station, the firefighters pulled up in their trucks.
A dozen firefighters arrived one by one, and Dominic nearly jumped out of the gym.
“I thought he was going to jump out of his shorts, honestly. He was overjoyed and the smile never left his face," Stratton said.
The heroes of so many young boys, after the firefighters came to rescue they became kids again themselves, diving into a Nerf gun battle, jumping on the gym floor and tossing Dominic into the foam pit.
“Within seconds we were doing darts and running around like kids,” Jensen said.
They stayed for pizza and cake, but left a 7-year-old boy with perhaps the greatest gift of all: a lesson in kindness.
“If we can make somebody’s day a happy day, I think that’s what we should be doing,” Stratton said.