O’FALLON, Mo. -- A Missouri fire department swore in 9-year-old Keira Stout, who has been battling a rare form of cancer, as an honorary firefighter on Monday.
Stout's turnout gear now hangs in the O’Fallon Fire Protection District closet with that of all the other firefighters.
Two years ago, Keira was diagnosed with Rhabdomyosarcoma, a rare form of cancer.
It started as a tumor behind her right eye that then spread to her arm, lower back, lungs and bone marrow. Keira’s cancer went into remission but returned in May.
About a year ago Keira met O’Fallon firefighter Tom Vogelgesang, and the two became fast friends.
"She stole my heart," Vogelgesang said. "I couldn't be more proud of her."
On Monday, thanks to Vogelgesang and the rest of the O’Fallon Fire Protection District, Keira became an honorary O’Fallon firefighter.
“I would tell them 'Thank you so much for all of this' and 'I love you guys and you’re the best,'” Keira said.
Keira was given a uniform, badge and personalized purple hat.
“Her resiliency as a child to go through everything she has gone through in the past two years since she has had this cancer is just incredible,” Vogelgesang said. “If I’m having a bad day I can look at a picture of her and think about what she’s been through and my day is not so bad after all.”
Vogelgesang has been growing his hair out to raise money for kids with cancer.
The goal is for Keira and Vogelgesang to shave their heads together.