REXFORD — The Vischer Ferry Volunteer Fire Company made 10-year-old Patrick Kane of Clifton Park an honorary firefighter Saturday.
Complete with firefighter hat, coat and boots, Kane looked the part as he posed for pictures with fire company officials and State Sen. James Tedisco, R-Glenville.
While Kane, a fifth grader at Okte Elementary School, said he’s always wanted to be a doctor, he’s started thinking about being both a medical professional and a volunteer firefighter. He also doesn’t mind being in the spotlight.
“I’m probably going to be famous from this, I’m going to be on TV for like 10 or 15 minutes, on two different channels,” he said.
Kane was selected for the honor of being a part of the volunteer fire company by a committee led by Jay Honsinger, who joined the volunteer fire company in 2018. He said he saw that the Vischer Ferry Volunteer Fire Company already had a lot of annual traditions related to the holiday season, including a “Santa Claus Detail” which includes Santa Claus handing out candy canes to families in the fire district. Honsinger said he wanted to take things a step further and select a child from the community facing a potentially life threatening illness and honor that child with membership in the company.
Patrick Kane stood out in part because he performs well in his work as a student, and created a slogan connected to fire prevention as part of a school assignment. His slogan was “Fire safety starts with me” written over a smiley face wearing a firefighter helmet.
Jay Honsinger said he knows first hand the impact honoring a child can have, because the Troy Police Department did the same thing for his son, Jay Patrick Honsinger, in 2011. He said his son suffers from a child form of Alzheimer’s disease.
“It was a great experience for him, because we don’t know how long he’s going to live. His brain is dying,” Jay Honsinger said.
Heath Kane, Patrick Kane’s father, said his son was not only born two months premature, but also had severe kidney problems at birth: one kidney was severely damaged by scar tissue while the other was only operating at 40 percent. His wife and Patrick’s mother, Susan Kane, was found to be a genetic match and donated one of her kidneys to him. Heath Kane said kidney transplants of the type used for his son typically only last about 16 years, and Patrick received his eight years ago.
“He’s been through a lot,” Heath Kane said. “So, we’ve been rolling with the punches. He’s enrolled at Okte Elementary School, where he’s been doing very well and the staff there is great.”
Heath Kane said he and his son have often gone hiking in the Vischer Ferry nature preserve and eaten sandwiches across the street from the department’s headquarters. The elder Kane said his stepfather is a member of the volunteer company and he feels gratified that his son is now connected to the legacy of that organization. He said he’s hopeful someday medical technology will advance enough to enable his son to overcome his medical problems.
“It will only happen once they start growing a person’s kidneys in a lab, taking the DNA right from the person, so there’s [no] issues with rejection. That’s when they’ll really cure it, because otherwise it’s a lifelong fight,” he said.
Susan Kane said Vischer Ferry Volunteer Fire Company has invited Patrick to ride along during this year’s Santa Claus Detail. She said it will depend on what her family is doing that weekend, but it’s possible he may do it.
“I want to do it!” Patrick exclaimed.
Julia Kane, Patrick’s six-year-old sister, attended the swearing-in ceremony for her brother Saturday. She said she plans to join the volunteer fire department when she gets older.
“Because, I feel jealous that my brother became an honorary fire fighter today,” she said.