Sacramento, US: Ethan Dean has always dreamed of being a garbage man.
Yesterday, the 6-year-old lived that fantasy: riding shot gun in a booster seat through Sacramento in a truck labeled "Ethan's Garbage Truck."
Ethan, garbage man for the day, made a series of stops in Sacramento to collect trash and recyclables from places like the fire station and CalEPA, where his father works. It wasn't a chore for Ethan, who has cystic fibrosis. When asked at one stop what his favorite part of the day had been, he said it was "cleaning up garbage."
Throughout his trip, he wore a cape that said "Hero Ethan" and a big smile. When Ethan visited the Make-A-Wish Foundation in February, he was asked a series of questions: What do you want to be? Who do you want to meet? What do you want to have? Where do you want to go?
In 2013, Make-A-Wish transformed San Francisco into Gotham for a 5-year-old boy who had battled leukemia for years and dreamed of being Batkid. Miles Scott traveled from one crime scene to another, rescuing a damsel in distress and thwarting the plans of The Riddler and The Penguin, as crowds of people cheered him on.
Ethan's dream is being a less fantastic, more everyday superhero almost all of his answers were garbage truck-related, said Jennifer Stolo, CEO of the local chapter of the Make-A-Wish Foundation. He really, really wants to be a
garbage man when he grows up. It meant the wish he'd be granted wasn't too mysterious. "We pretty much knew it was going to be about garbage trucks," said Ethan's dad, Ken Dean, laughing. He's been watching them come down the street since he first learned how to crawl, his dad said.
Ethan's uncle, Tim Dean, said it means a lot to the family to have people who don't even know him come out to celebrate. He too had a feeling Ethan's wish would be about being a garbage man. Ethan has a garbage truck bedspread and pillow. He has garbage truck toys. He's had a garbage truck birthday party.
"Every time I go and visit him, the first thing he asks me to do is, 'Wanna go play with my garbage trucks?' Dean said. "He just loves it."
After being surprised at his Rancho Cordova elementary school, Ethan and his garbage truck made five stops, recycling and getting rid of waste at each. Sam Thurman, who drove Ethan's garbage truck for the day, has worked for Waste Management in Sacramento for 35 years. When he agreed to drive Ethan, he said he had no idea how big it was going to be.
And as for Ethan? "He can't wipe that grin off his face," Thurman said. "He
looks like it's Christmas morning and he's unwrapping his first present." Erika Sizemore doesn't know Ethan and said she learned about his special day on social media. It hit home for her, she said, because she has two boys, Kane and Benny, who also love garbage trucks.