Yosemite National Park was the scene of a heartwarming story recently as an 8-year-old boy with an incurable condition was made an honorary park ranger for a day. Gabriel Lavan-Ying was flown via helicopter with his parents and two siblings to Northern California thanks to the Make-A-Wish Foundation.
Gabriel spent the day assisting the park’s team of rangers carry out exciting duties such as putting out a forest fire and rescuing a hiker who had been injured. The mock activities were part of a planned day of adventure for the 8-year-old who was dubbed an honorary ranger of Yosemite at the end of the day.
Gabriel has been diagnosed with Ehlers-Danlos syndrome, which attacks the body’s blood vessel walls, joints, skin, and other connective tissues. The disease has no cure and is extremely debilitating but it was clear that wasn’t going to have any adverse effect whatsoever on Gabriel’s excitement as his dream of being a park ranger became a reality.
Gabriel was fitted with an authentic ranger uniform complete with a hat and all of the appropriate décor. He was also given his own park radio so that he could communicate with the other members of the park’s ranger team as he went about his day assisting them with their duties. He even got the opportunity to ride in a fire truck to respond to a real and unplanned small forest fire and assist the ranger team in putting it out.
At the end of an exciting day of park ranger adventure for Gabriel, he was given a ceremony at the Yosemite visitor’s center. In attendance were about 300 visitors and almost 50 of the park’s full time rangers and other members of the community in and around Yosemite.
The youngster received a plaque a number of honorary ranger badges and was given one of the flags that is typically flown over the Yosemite Valley.