Nobody makes summer blockbusters about guys like Sam – that’s for fighter pilots, soldiers, scientists and athletes. Even gritty indie film festival dramas have yet to tackle the life and times of the Sams of the world.
When Sam started his career 35 years ago, he would’ve been known as a garbage man. Today, sanitation engineer is the accepted title. By any name, though, he’s one of those unsung, overlooked people who just happens to be a vital part of keeping every community clean and healthy.
But Sam recently had his day in the spotlight in a way he never imagined. He granted a 6-year-old boy’s wish to be a garbage man.
Ethan’s life has been defined by two things: his daily struggle with cystic fibrosis, and his fascination with the people and the trucks that haul the refuse from his neighborhood. When Make-A-Wish volunteers connected with Ethan, everything they learned about his interests led back to garbage trucks. His wish to be a garbage man was a pure reflection of his personality and creativity.
A Wish Granted by a Community
Maybe that’s why Ethan’s wish inspired thousands of people in his community to become wish granters. They took time from their day to create a positive change in the life of a child who endures rigorous, time-consuming daily therapy to maintain his health. Some held “World’s Greatest Garbage Man” signs and cheered along Ethan’s route, while others presented him with his own garbage man uniform. Together, Sacramento residents created a community-driven experience – and an unforgettable time granting a wish.
Recycling expert Mitch transformed into Captain Recycle, a superhero who taught Ethan the importance of recycling. A waste management company also put Ethan right into the cabin of a garbage truck, with Sam to mentor him in the ways of waste removal. Wish granters planned a route through the community, complete with multiple stops to show Ethan all about what it takes to keep the city clean.
“He is Sacramento’s greatest garbage man!” said Captain Recycle. (Captain Recycle may want to expand that scope considering all the signs proclaiming Ethan the “World’s Greatest Garbage Man.”)
Lasting Memories for Every Wish Granter
City officials from the mayor-elect to the fire chief were inspired to be part of Ethan’s wish. They stopped by to greet him at his stops throughout the city and on his lunch break.
But it’s likely that Sam will be the person Ethan remembers most from his wish. Sam was just as excited as Ethan, and his unexpected chance to be a wish granter had his emotions running high.
“I’m gonna try not to cry,” Sam said before the wish, adding that he looked forward to seeing Ethan’s “pure joy.”
All photos courtesy of Xsight Media