It took 97 years, but this week, Pennsylvania native Bill Grun was granted the birthday wish of a lifetime when he fulfilled his dream of being a firefighter.
Grun got to ride in a Doylestown Fire Company truck on Monday, sounding the siren as the crew drove around the town.
“You bet it was fun,” Grun told ABC News.
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Wesley Enhanced Living, the retirement home where Grun resides, presented him with the birthday surprise as part of their WEL Wishes program, which helps residents fulfill lifelong goals.
Grun didn’t know what to think when he first saw the fire truck, the largest in Doylestown, pulling up to WEL.
“I was sitting in the parlor and they said, ‘Look out the window,’” he recalled. “And I said, ‘Oh my golly, are we having a fire drill?’ Then they said, ‘We’re going to take you for a ride.’ I had a great time.”
At first, the 97-year-old wasn’t sure how he would reach the inside of the truck.
“The first step is two feet up and I thought, ‘How am I going to get up into that?’” he said. “I grabbed hold of the hand rail and with a little assistance of the fireman I was able to get into the truck.”
Once Grun got the hang of the siren, “he was using it the whole ride,” Doylestown Public Information Officer Larry Browne told ABC.
“He loved it,” Browne said. “He’s amazing. He floored all of us.”
“I put my foot down and the siren went off right away,” Grun said, laughing.
In a display of his seemingly endless supply of energy, Grun “jogged” across the parking lot after the ride, according to the fire station.
Grun said he’d wanted to be a firefighter ever since he visited a fire station as a boy scout and “saw the old-time fire engines with all the brass on them.”
But instead of fighting fires, Grun pursued a teaching career, which he describes as a “37-year honeymoon.” He still volunteer teaches at a local middle school every Friday, making it his “favorite day of the week.”
Grun said he continues to teach because he is “very fond of young people.”
“I’m very invigorated by being around young people,” he said. “Young people today are no different than they were when I started teaching in 1947. The only ingredient that’s been added is drugs. In those days, we were worried about chewing gum.”
Other than volunteering at the middle school and teaching Sunday school, Grun keeps busy by singing in two different groups and bicycling up to three times a week.
The 97-year-old still drives his antique Model T Ford with a manual shift that he “bought as junk” and “fixed up” in 1958.
Grun said the secret to his long, successful life is “attitude.”
“You make up your mind that life is going to be good, and it is,” he said. “As Orphan Annie always said, ‘The sun will come out tomorrow.’”
On its website, the Doylestown Fire Company described Grun as “as sharp as men decades younger.”
Grun is making even bigger plans for his 98th birthday, when he will ride on a helicopter for the first time.
(H/T: ABC News)
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