After passing by the highway construction sites he saw outside his family’s car windows on the way to the hospital who knows how many times, Benjamin Brister knew what he wanted to be.
The Edmond 4-year-old was the first Make-A-Wish Foundation match that Tulsa’s Crossland Construction has had the opportunity to host, and Superintendent Russell Hutcherson said the company was ecstatic about the opportunity to give him “the day of a lifetime.”
“Then they said, well he actually wants to be a construction worker firefighter,” Hutcherson said, chuckling. “I was like I don’t know if that really exists, but we can do both.”
For a month, Crossland schemed to plan the coolest day they could think up and were even told on some ideas to pull back a little, Hutcherson said; that they might be going over the top.
“I hope it’s something he remembers forever,” Hutcherson said.
The Brister family’s day began with a ride from their home in a decked-out Mercedes Benz van to the company’s Union-Tuttle Stadium construction site in Tulsa for a groundbreaking ceremony for “Ben’s Construction Company” — which was brought to life with a logo, business cards and matching construction hats — before the little man himself got to pump concrete, pour stepping stones he and his big brother got to personalize and move material and dirt with heavy equipment.
With each step, he checked off his list of “big jobs to-do.”
Then it was demo-time: Hutcherson has a 4-year-old son of his own, so he knew his 7-year-old daughter’s toy ride-on car would make a great target for Benjamin’s time on the excavator.
“It went like this,” Benjamin later recounted, using a toy excavator to demonstrate the crushing of the play car; voicing the sounds of destruction.
“It was broken,” Hutcherson said of his daughter’s toy, shrugging.
Tulsa firefighters arrived as a surprise after a Chick-Fil-A lunch — Benjamin’s favorite — and took the family on a ride around the parking lot. Benjamin grinned as he honked the horn, catching a couple spectators by surprise.
Benjamin achieved remission from cancer in April of 2020 after battling it for most of 2019, but mid-pandemic, there really wasn’t any time for a cancer-free celebration, said his mother, Megan Brister.
Friday was that day, Brister said, to celebrate the health of her boy who has been through so much.
“I know that Ben is really tough,” Brister said. “All the finger pokes and IVs and chemotherapy he had to get, I mean, he did it with no complaints; he just did it. He was a pretty strong kiddo while in the hospital, and even now; he’s got kidney disease now from chemotherapy, and he takes medicine twice a day for that with almost no complaining.”
After a wish-granting like that, he was almost guaranteed to crash on the way home.
“Are you ready to take a nap?” a Make-A-Wish Foundation worker asked after Benjamin offered his tiny thank you’s to a group from atop his uncle’s shoulders.
“Mmhm,” he said.