INDIANAPOLIS — Brandon Lee Vinson is Indiana’s youngest sworn firefighter. He’s also ensconced in the fight of his life against a relentless opponent called cystic fibrosis.
But the firefighting community is banding together, hoping that with outside help, they can drum up some additional funds so the 8-year-old will be able to have a lung transplant.
A Battle for Brandon chili dinner is scheduled for 5 p.m. to midnight Nov. 3 at the American Legion Post 64, 601 S. Holt Road, Indianapolis, by a host of fellow firefighters. Tickets are $25.
“Basically what (cystic fibrosis) does is it affects his lungs and digestive tract and the mucus is thicker than anyone else that’s healthy,” explained Brandon’s father, Greg Vinson, who works at Indianapolis Fire Department Station 64 and lives just outside of Avon. “He’s constantly on antibiotics, takes three breathing treatments a day on top of the vest treatment, which is a vest that comes over his shoulders, and he does that for 30 minutes three times a day and it breaks up all the mucus. The goal is to get it out of his lungs to cough it up.”
Cystic fibrosis is a terminal illness, but Vinson says Brandon’s prognosis is significantly better if he can get a lung transplant. In 1959, according to the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation, the life expectancy in children was six months at average. As recently as 2008, that number has spiked to 37.4 years, according to the Textbook of Clinical Pediatrics.
Derek Huff, who started the local branch of the Axe Men, a motorcycle club restricted to International Association of Fire Fighters (IAFF) career firefighters, said, “The reason we came up with (the chili dinner idea) was that Brandon has been a part of our lives for awhile.”
In January, Brandon was sworn in as an honorary firefighter by the Indiana House of Representatives and the IAFF Local 416. Having taken such an interest in his father’s profession, as well as having a love for motorcycles, he was named a member of the Axe Men as well.