While the loss of some historic Vinton business buildings to Thursday’s fire has been a very difficult time for many, it has also brought moments of inspiration and kindness to strangers.

Among those moments was a firefighter who brightened a young boy’s day with a simple gesture.

Carrie Mulder explains what happened for her son, AJ.

“We were standing on the side of the road and I was explaining to my son AJ about the devastation of the fire and what the fireman were trying to do to help. We try to talk to the kids everyday about the importance of respect and gratitude for officers, firemen and women and paramedics. AJ’s dad, DJ, is retired U.S. army, previously with the Sheriff’s Department, a former volunteer firefighter and now a correctional officer for the State of Iowa, so it is important to our family to make sure that we thank those who are working hard to protect us everyday. So, as the fireman came towards us I encouraged AJ, as we often do, to thank him for everything and his hard work.”

That, says Mulder, is exactly what the young boy did.

She then explains what happened next.

“The fireman, Dan McKenna, came over and shook his hand and said, ‘Hello, young man.’ He then asked him if he had ever been in a fire truck before. My 6-year-old looked up at the fireman in awe and said, ‘No.’ Then the fireman said, ‘Come on then, this is an experience.”

McKenna set the boy in the driver’s seat, while his mom took a few photos of a very  excited boy’s very big smile.

The brief encounter, says the mom, fueled the youngster’s interest in firefighting.

“I wanted to say a huge thank you to the Vinton Fire Department for taking time out during the devastation to encourage the dreams of one very awe-struck and awesome 6-year-old. He has now found his calling in life and can’t stop talking about it. We are just amazed by the kindness extended to us today. We are so very thankful for the time taken and kindness toward our son during this time,” says Mulder. “He loves to be just like his dad in so many ways so today was more special than most. Our thoughts and prayers go out to all involved. It is just devastating to see.”