When Hanford Fire Department Chief Steve Pendergrass met an eager 7-year-old girl who wanted to become a firefighter one day, he encouraged her to work hard, unaware that she was battling a deadly disease.
Penny Saltray, 7, the daughter of Councilwoman Amanda Saltray, wanted to become a firefighter but suffered from an incurable condition, which meant her plans to become a firefighter were in jeopardy.
When Chief Pendergrass learned about this fact he decided to help her achieve her goals and on Tuesday Penny was sworn in as an honorary firefighter.
“She doesn’t deserve the life she’s been dealt, and for one moment on one day she got to experience something so good,” Amanda Saltray said. “It’s so amazing because she’s such a beautiful little girl, with such a beautiful, bright spirit, no matter what happens.
“It’s not possible for Penny to be a firefighter, but this is our way around. We got to see people come together, who don’t always get along, and smile. She brought everyone together and brought peace. It’s amazing. We’re very thankful.”
Penny was super excited to become a firefighter and even received gear and badges to complete the look. “This was my dream all along and my dream has come true by the firefighters,” the 7-year-old said.
The California-based fire department had another surprise in store for her and on Friday morning, at 11:00 a.m., they had a line-up and inspection that Penny was part of, and everyone was invited to celebrate the newest honorary firefighter.
Amanda Saltray took to Facebook to share her story thanking those involved in making a very special memory for her daughter.
“Yesterday, was a blessing beyond measure!” she wrote. “As most of you know Penny has had a hard life and the restrictions that her health condition poses on her, prevent her from enjoying the everyday things that most people take for granted. More times than we can count Penny’s life has been in jeopardy but she is a survivor and our reliance and our trust in the Lord has seen us through the toughest of times.
“Thank you to all who have been lifting her up in prayer. God is good! I am so grateful to live in this awesome community that came together as a joint effort to recognize the struggles and challenges that my Penny has had to endure and will continue to endure.”