The Grand Canyon is one of the most beautiful places on Earth, and its beauty is sought after by nature enthusiasts and tourists the world over. Seeing the Grand Canyon, stepping out onto the Skywalk, or even climbing the walls of the canyon are tasks that have made it onto many “bucket lists”. For the many that couldn’t consider their lives complete without seeing this incredible landform, adding the canyon to your bucket list and finding the time to visit isn’t that hard.
A full life will likely yield many opportunities to set aside a weekend and go see the canyon, but for the disadvantaged and disabled, seeing the canyon seems like a more distant goal, but when the Castle family created a bucket list for their son Anthony, the clock was already ticking.
When Anthony Castle was just three years old, he was diagnosed with an aggressive and destructive disease called Duchenne muscular dystrophy. This disorder gradually degrades the victim’s body until they lose the ability to walk around age 9 and eventually pass away during their teenage years. With some victims of MD passing away well before the estimated age of death, Anthony and his family knew that time was limited.
When Anthony was 14, he was just beginning to lose his ability to walk, so he and his family compiled a bucket list of things Anthony wanted to see and do before he passed away. As Anthony’s muscles began to deteriorate, it was clear that more strenuous items on the bucket list would be impossible after a certain point, so Anthony rose to the challenge and decided that, in 2014, he would dip his feet into the Colorado River.
This was one of the most ambitious items on Anthony’s bucket list, and the single climb down to the river would require months of practice hiking, special equipment, and a large team of volunteers to help make Anthony’s dream a reality. On May 5th, with the help of 30 volunteers, including 12 Valley firefighters, Anthony finally dipped his toes in the river.
This was a huge moment for Anthony, his family, and even the firefighters who helped him along his journey and made a real connection with him. Many of the firefighters that were there that day didn’t see Anthony again until months and months after his climb, but on February 9th of this year, the whole group gathered together again with another goal in mind: make Anthony an honorary firefighter.
As Anthony’s disorder progresses, he is becoming weaker and weaker, and as he and his family prepare for a dangerous upcoming surgery, they gathered all of the support they could. On the 9th, Anthony donned an official Phoenix Fire Department t-shirt, fist-bumped Fire Captain Darrell Wiseman, and rode the fireman’s ladder 80 feet into the air. Anthony is a true teenager at heart, Wiseman remarked, and even in his unhealthy state, he still had the time to chat about attractive hikers with the fire team, even offering to go get a girl’s number for one of the firefighters.
The Grand Canyon National Park is filled with endless opportunities, and the community and officials that protect the area are part of what makes the Grand Canyon one of the most wonderful places on Earth. What’s your favorite Grand Canyon memory? What’s on your bucket list? Let us know in the comments section below!