Terminally Ill Toddler Who Loved Firefighters Meets NYFD Heroes Before Passing Away

August 29, 2019 Updated: September 3, 2019

A 3-year-old boy who suffered from cancer had inspired many people in his short life. With a love for fire departments and fire trucks, he was even made an honorary junior firefighter by the Fire Department of the City of New York (FDNY).

Trucker Dukes, from Maui, Hawaii, was diagnosed with a childhood cancer known as neuroblastoma, and in stage 4, when he was 1 year old. After battling the cancer for two years, he passed away at his Hawaii home on March 3, 2017, in his mother’s arms. The news was announced on Team Trucker, the Facebook page dedicated to the young boy.

“Trucker’s passing has been the hardest experience you can imagine. Now we get to celebrate his extraordinary life,” his mother, Shauna Dukes, said in a statement to ABC News.

“It’s incredible,” Shauna Dukes said Saturday. “That little guy touched so many hearts, and I’m really proud to be his mom.” Maui News Sunday paper. #TruckerRidesWithUs

Posted by Team Trucker – Trucker Dukes Supporters on Sunday, March 5, 2017

After Trucker was diagnosed with cancer, the family sent him and Shauna to New York City to receive treatment.

When Trucker was in New York, he befriended the NYC firefighters when they responded to a call at the Ronald McDonald House, where the young boy was staying.

Posted by Team Trucker – Trucker Dukes Supporters on Monday, November 2, 2015

“I see this little boy excitedly walking towards me with his eyes aglow. I opened my arms and he basically climbed up and hugged me around the neck. It was as if we’ve been friends/brothers for years,” FDNY Captain Jim Grismer said to Huffington Post.

"Trucker's become a real New Yorker!" #TeamTrucker #TruckerCan

Posted by Team Trucker – Trucker Dukes Supporters on Friday, March 18, 2016

Share if you LOVE Trucker's smile and HATE cancer. #TeamTrucker #TruckerCan #CancerSucks http://teamtrucker.givingfuel.com/team-trucker

Posted by Team Trucker – Trucker Dukes Supporters on Thursday, March 10, 2016

In May 2016, the FDNY told ABC News that Trucker was sworn in as a FDNY “Junior Firefighter” on May 31, 2016, an honor that FDNY bestows on young children who are battling with illness. He also celebrated his third birthday with a party hosted by some of the firefighters from FDNY.

Posted by Team Trucker – Trucker Dukes Supporters on Sunday, January 11, 2015

Not long ago, the FDNY were called out to the Ronald McDonald House because of a burned dinner. There was no danger and…

Posted by Team Trucker – Trucker Dukes Supporters on Thursday, January 21, 2016

“He actually thinks he’s a firefighter in New York. We’ve had unbelievable support from firefighters all across the world, actually,” Shauna said to ABC News.

Trucker has a love for fire departments and fire trucks, as his dad, Joshua Dukes, is a firefighter in Maui.

Hoping to give Trucker a better quality of life, his parents decided to stop the treatments and brought him home to Maui to treat him nutritionally, The Maui News reported.

When the social media campaign “#TruckerToughChallenge” was launched in January 2017 by his family, the firefighters also participated, including many celebrities, to show support to the young boy while he fought cancer.

While Trucker battled with cancer, his family, which consists of three older siblings, also created wonderful memories with him. The family went on a trip to Whistler, British Columbia, and was treated to a hotel and also snowboard rentals and lessons for the children.

SHARE if you agree that this picture melts your heart. Pictured at FDNY Engine 39/Ladder 16, Trucker Dukes and Capt. Jim…

Posted by Team Trucker – Trucker Dukes Supporters on Sunday, March 20, 2016

“We made some really, really amazing memories, but at the same time Trucker started getting worse. It was a double-edged sword. Shauna and I really enjoyed spending time with the family, but we knew what the next chapter was going to be,” Joshua said.

After they returned home, Trucker’s legs started to swell and he was in so much pain that he could not sleep. “He’d wake up screaming at night from the pain. He’d literally wake up 30 to 40 times a night,” Joshua said.

A fundraiser for two-year-old Trucker Dukes is planned for this Saturday, Dec. 19, 2015 at L’AVA Sportsbar, located on…

Posted by Team Trucker – Trucker Dukes Supporters on Friday, December 18, 2015

“It was really, really challenging,” he continued. “I think towards the end we started praying that God would heal him or God would take him because we didn’t want to see him suffer anymore. Honestly, when he died, he took his last breath and that was it. It wasn’t violent, and he was in my wife’s arms and he was home with his family. That was a miracle,” he added.

After Trucker’s passing was known, the fire departments in New York City and Maui paid tribute to him by putting his name on their riding list.

The family has been advocating to raise awareness of pediatric cancer. “I don’t know what the future looks like for us, but I’ll never stop raising awareness. Hopefully, one day there’s something less toxic and not as harsh for someone else’s baby,” Shauna told The Maui News.

A kiss from a boy to his mommy is so lovely. A reward. This kiss is beautiful for a thousand reasons. LET'S SEND THIS…

Posted by Team Trucker – Trucker Dukes Supporters on Monday, April 18, 2016

Nearly five months after Trucker passed away, his father updated Trucker’s Facebook page to announce that the headstone had been installed on July 26. He also wrote a touching message to Trucker.

“It’s so strange because I’m somehow comforted that your headstone is installed now and honors you and your legendary life, but heartbroken because no matter how many times I visit your grave I know your not here with us. I miss you so much kiddo. It feels like I have a hole ripped in my heart,” the post read.

Your headstone got installed today. 😔It has been four months and twenty two days since you left. It's so strange because…

Posted by Team Trucker – Trucker Dukes Supporters on Tuesday, July 25, 2017

The post continued: “Remembering our times with you, like we were reminiscing the face you made when eating limes today, is like walking on the edge of a sword. The memories bring so much joy, but cut deep at the same time. Know that there is not a day that goes by that I don’t think about you.”

“I want to be the type of husband your mom deserves. I want to be the father you deserve. I want to be the type of friend that you would want to have. Thank you for inspiring me to be a better man. I wouldn’t trade any one of your memories to be rid of the pain. I love you son. See you in heaven,” Joshua wrote.