Murfreesboro Firefighters are gearing up for the Special Kids Race to be held on Saturday, March 19, but they aren’t just running for their health…
They will be running in honor of 11-year-old Ivan Mrzena, who has become a good friend of the C-Shift crew at Murfreesboro Fire & Rescue Department’s Station 9 located on Cason Lane. Crew members include Captain/Shift Inspector Mark McCluskey, Drivers Josh Oliver and Scott Duncan, and Firefighters James Bryant, Mitchell Whittenburg, and Shandreah Womack. Ivan is particularly fond of Firefighter Shandreah Womack and refers to her as “Firefighter Shan.”
The crew first met Ivan in 2012, when they were displaying equipment for community relations at a car show.
“He really enjoyed seeing the fire truck,” said Firefighter Womack. “I will never forget the smile he had on his face.”
Then in December 2015, while the crew was conducting a fire inspection at Scales Elementary School, Ivan’s mom, Pamela Mrzena, recognized Shandreah and called out, “Firefighter Shan!!!” She then introduced herself as “Ivan’s mom,” and began to tell Womack that Ivan talked nonstop about “Firefighter Shan” and his desire to work at Station 9 someday.
He weighed one pound/five ounces and measured 11 ¼ inches the day he was born, 17 weeks early. He spent a total of four and a half months in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU).
“He was first given a three percent chance of surviving,” said Ivan’s mom, Pamela Mrzena. Learning that statistically speaking, white male babies have the lowest survival rate for preemies, the family was worried. Ivan was diagnosed with cerebral palsy at just three years old, but began therapy around nine months old. Though cerebral palsy is his primary diagnosis, he also has strabismus and hydrocephalus and has had 11 surgeries to date.
“He has big plans to become a Firefighter at Station 9 one day,” said Pamela. As for now, he’ll just be happy to participate in the “1 Mile Fun Run” at the Special Kids race with his buddies from Station 9 and “Firefighter Shan!”
For more information about the Special Kids Race, visit specialkidsrace.org .