8-year-old with Ehlers-Danlos named Honorary Ranger at Yosemite National Park
This was a dream-come-true for Gabriel, a Florida 8-year-old with Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome.
“A boy with a debilitating disorder had his dream come true when he was officially named an honorary ranger at Yosemite National Park.
Eight-year-old Gabriel Lavan-Ying, from Gainesville, Florida, has Ehlers-Danlos syndrome, a debilitating and incurable disorder affecting that causes overly flexible joints and effects the skin and blood vessels.
But when the Make-A-Wish Foundation flew him to Northern California on Tuesday so he could fulfill his lifelong dream of being a park ranger, he was nothing but enthusiastic.
Gabriel was given a uniform and hat and he performed several acts of bravery throughout the day, from putting out a forest fire to riding in a helicopter and even saving an ‘injured hiker’ who had hurt her ankle.
In reality, the woman was a ranger who was acting out the rescue for his benefit – but it was just as thrilling for Gabriel.
And at the end of the day, 300 people gathered in a ceremony where a real U.S. magistrate judge officially named him an honorary park ranger.
To commemorate his new role, Gabriel was given a plaque, park badges and a flag, and he couldn’t have been more thrilled.
‘He was so happy and just so in the moment. He impressed me beyond belief’
‘He loves the outdoors, always has,’ Marissa Gajos, a wish coordinator for the foundation, told Today.com.
She added that he’d never been to Yosemite before, so it was a dream come true to be flown there.
The boy’s heroic park ranger duties were documented in pictures, with one photo showing him wearing an oversized yellow anorak and holding a hose to help the rangers put out a fire.
See more photos at the Yosemite blog site.
In another photo, Gabriel sits on a horse with the other rangers, standing out due to his small stature.
National Park Ranger Scott Gediman said the little boy was ‘so happy’ to be joining in on the duties. ‘He impressed me beyond belief,’ he added.
Gabriel also explored the park looking for birds and bugs, went for a ride in a fire truck and made calls on his very own park ranger walkie talkie.
‘We were so honored he picked us,’ Yosemite National Park spokeswoman Kari Cobb told NBC Los Angeles.
‘Gabriel’s family goes to national and state parks all the time to experience nature. But he had never been to Yosemite. It’s great. Most kids pick to go to Disneyland.’
Picture’s from Gabriel’s day as a ranger were posted on the Yosemite National Park Facebook page, where commenters gave him and his family their best wishes.
‘We were so honored he picked us – most kids pick to go to Disneyland’
‘You’ve given him and his family a thrill of a lifetime, as well as a huge booster shot of love and support which will surely sustain them in their great struggle,’ wrote one person. ‘Let’s say a prayer for brave young Gabriel and his family.’
And why the rangers were happy to help make his wish come true, they said it’s no small matter to be given the honorary title of ranger.
‘We’ve only made four or five honorary park rangers. We don’t take it lightly,’ said Mr Gediman.”
Gabriel’s heroic acts as honorary park ranger were documented in pictures that he will cherish for a lifetime!
See more photos and details about his experience at the Yosemite blog site.
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