MERIDEN — City fire, police and ambulance crews gathered for a reason unrelated to the pandemic recently.
More than a dozen fire trucks, ambulances, police cruisers, and other cars paraded down parts of South Meriden to support a child with a rare heart condition.
Four-year-old Julian Felton’s parents kept the parade a surprise. In videos you can see his eyes light up as he sees the trucks — lights on and sirens blaring — drive into his neighborhood.
“He just had pure excitement and joy to see everything,” mom Kara Felton said. “It was really precious.”
Julian has hypertrophic cardiomyopathy and congenital generalized lipodystrophy, which present a very rare and life-threatening combination of conditions. As mom puts it, he looks like a miniature body builder because his body stores fat in his blood stream, liver and around his heart, instead of under the skin.
Because the condition is so rare, doctors aren’t sure what Julian’s future holds. He has about 12 specialists who help, and a special diet too. While doctor visits are restricted during the coronavirus pandemic, he still has telehealth appointments.
Julian Felton’s wish is to have a heated pool to be able to swim for longer periods of time. The Make-a-Wish foundation is working on fulfilling his dream.
Carin Buckman, Make-a-Wish communications and digital manager, said many wishes have been put on hold due to the pandemic. Instead, the foundation has been organizing first responder parades to support children.
“Right now we really need that positive energy and to bring those families and communities together in a really hopeful way,” Buckman said.
While Make-a-Wish kids are often already used to self-isolating due to an illness, Buckman said things like the car parades just add “an extra dose of hope.”
Fire Chief Ken Morgan said when the organization reached out, it was a “no brainer” to put something together. As a former Make-a-Wish board member and parent of a recipient, Morgan said he already has a soft spot for the group.
Felton said her family felt blessed by the parade.
“When something like this happens it's very humbling and … it’s amazing that there are people out there that care, that we don’t even know, and support him,” Felton said.