Firefighters surprise sick boy with trip to Disney World

NORFOLK, Va. (WAVY) — Cole Terrill, 5 years-old, feels right at home with firefighters, but he wasn’t expecting what happened at a surprise party they threw for him Tuesday night.

In April, firefighters talked to Cole at a golf tournament. “We just asked him what he wanted to do,” said Lawrence Brown, president of Norfolk Professional Firefighters Local 68.

Pam King, president of Suffolk Professional Firefighters Local 2801, greeted Cole as he walked in the door Tuesday.

“Those firefighters loved you so much and remembered what you said. They all got together and they bought you a trip to Disney World for you and your mom to go for seven days,” King said, as Cole jumped up off his mother.

“I hope he has the time of his life, that he remembers this forever, that he got to go to Disney World with his mom,” Brown said.

Norfolk Professional Firefighters Local 68, Suffolk Professional Firefighters Local 2801, and Portsmouth Professional Firefighters Local 539 pulled the funds together for the trip, which was planned by the travel agency of Portsmouth Vice Mayor Elizabeth Psimas, Brown said.

Cole thanked the firefighters as he opened a bag of gifts, including a stuffed Mickey Mouse and t-shirt.

Although Cole’s mother, Mandy Terrill, was in on the surprise, she found herself searching for the right words. “Pretty overwhelmed, appreciative. It’s pretty awesome of them,” she said, fighting back tears.

Cole has Duchenne muscular dystrophy, a degenerative disease that will only make life more difficult as he gets older.

“Between nine and 12-years-old, they become wheelchair-bound. Early teens, 12 to 15-years-old, they start having heart and lung problems, and most don’t make it past late teens, early 20s,” Terrill said.

This week, Cole will spend time with several fire departments to kick off fundraisers for the Muscular Dystrophy Association. After that, he’ll go on his dream trip.

“There’s nothing I can ever do to repay them. It just means a lot,” Terrill said.

And online fund has been set up to help pay for Cole’s medical bill — if you’d like to donate, click here. provides commenting to allow for constructive discussion on the stories we cover. In order to comment here, you acknowledge you have read and agreed to our Terms of Service. Commenters who violate these terms, including use of vulgar language or racial slurs, will be banned. Please be respectful of the opinions of others. If you see an inappropriate comment, please flag it for our moderators to review. Note: Comments containing links are not allowed.

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