Firefighter asks for public’s help as he tackles big race for sick Indianapolis boy

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INDIANAPOLIS – A Pike Township firefighter is asking for the public’s help as he raises money for a little boy who was diagnosed with cystic fibrosis when he was a few weeks old.

The firefighter plans to run a half-marathon in May wearing all of his gear to give the boy and his family a much-needed vacation and raise awareness about the terminal disease.

“I can’t breathe very well because I’m sick,” said Brandon Vinson, 8, who explained how he tells other children about cystic fibrosis.

Vinson has been doing his school work at home as an extra safeguard against the flu.

“He’s gone to the hospital and had his lungs cleaned out and his sinuses. It has been a long, rough road for him,” said Greg Vinson, Brandon’s father.

Vinson is a firefighter with the Indianapolis Fire Department. He met Troy Clements, a Pike Township firefighter years ago, but Clements had not met Vinson’s son until Friday. He visited the family at home to tell them about his plans to run the St. Vincent Geist Half Marathon on May 18.

He will walk the 13.1 miles in his firefighting gear, which weighs about 60 pounds. Most of that weight is on his back.

Clements said the little boy touched him.

“When your kids are sick, it’s hard, and they don’t teach you that,” he said.

“Just working in it for a half hour can be exhausting, so I can’t imagine how he’s going to feel when he’s done,” said Vinson.

Clements said he will happily endure that pain to get people’s attention and raise the money he needs to give the family a much-needed vacation. Brandon has never seen the ocean, and he has his eyes set on Florida.

His father believes the warm, salty air would also do him some good as they pursue a double lung transplant. They have been talking to doctors in St. Louis and expect to be put on the organ donor list soon.

“Brandon has one of the more severe cases of it, so he’s a lot sicker than some of the other kids,” said Vinson.

Donations can be mailed or brought to the Firefighter’s Credit Union in downtown Indianapolis where a fund has been set up in Brandon’s name.

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