Zachary Myers, 16, may have been a bit overwhelmed by the large crowd that gathered in his honor at the Madison Walmart on Friday. But any nervousness was washed away by a large smile when he learned he was going to take a ride in the Madison Fire Department's Quint 6 ladder truck.
The fire truck ride, complete with flashing lights and blaring sirens, was one of many treats for the teen.
Zachary, who is living with several illnesses, was the recipient of the Walmart Heart program's attention.
The program, begun by Greg Carter and several other drivers from the Walmart transportation group in Seymour, finds and treats special needs children with special events in their honor - each tailored to the interests of the child.
"This is Zachary's day. It is all about him," Carter said.
Carter met Zachary and his father, Steve, mother, Kim, and sister, Tiffany, last year. With the help of Greg Kynion, general manager of the Madison Walmart, they were able to provide a television and Christmas dinner for Zachary for Christmas.
When Carter was making that Christmas stop and met Zachary, he said he knew Zachary should be the recipient of the Wal-Mart Heart program's attention.
Kim Myers said her son has spina bifida, severe scoliosis, heart disorders and many other ailments. He is currently scheduled for major back surgery if his heart can handle it later this year.
"This is wonderful," Kim Myers said. "It has been overwhelming how much care and generosity they have shown for Zach."
Carter tailored the day for Zachary after learning of his love of fire engines, as well as tractor-trailers, and his family's history with the military.
The day included a ceremony in the store with cake and punch and visits from Mayor Damon Welch, who awarded Zach with a key to the city; Fire Chief Steve Horton, who made Zach an honorary firefighter - complete with a ride in the ladder truck; several drivers from the Walmart Transportation Seymour branch, who presented Zachary with a trucker's uniform shirt with his name on it and gave him a ride in a Walmart semi truck later in the afternoon; and Indiana Army National Guard Lt. Col. Dale Lyles, who presented Zachary with a commander's coin and a proclamation designating him as an official soldier for a day.
With its beginnings in Indiana, the Walmart Heart program is now reaching children across the globe as a corporate program.