2-year-old fronts Bellefonte parade

Maddox Raptosh, 2, leans against a bright yellow Camaro, eager to be the grand marshal of the Logan Fire Company parade in Bellefonte on Saturday.
Maddox Raptosh, 2, leans against a bright yellow Camaro, eager to be the grand marshal of the Logan Fire Company parade in Bellefonte on Saturday.

Fire trucks, batons, public officials — the 44th annual Logan Fire Company parade was everything a summer parade should be.

Featuring more than 30 vehicles ranging from county emergency to law enforcement, emergency medical services and even the Shriners’ miniature cars, the parade wound through the main streets of Bellefonte Saturday evening to the delight of hundreds of onlookers lining the sidewalks of the borough.

Tankers, engines and aerial trucks from the fire companies of Logan, Undine, Alpha, Pleasant Gap and Howard, Gregg and Walker townships were featured, as well as appearances by the Bellefonte Band, several twirling companies, the county commissioners and Rep. Kerry Benninghoff, R-Bellefonte.

“We do the parade for the community as a thank you,” fire company President Mike Swartz said. “A small thank you, to give back the support we’ve gotten over the years.”

And while the community support for its local fire company is evident, one member of the parade truly has his community’s support, even if he’s too young to realize it.

Maddox Raptosh, 2, of Port Matilda, was made parade grand marshal and honorary fireman for the day as part of efforts by the Make-A-Wish Foundation. Logan Fire Company Capt. Bobbi Salvanish said the company had called Make-A-Wish seeking someone who could act as grand marshal.

“We’re really excited to have Maddox in the parade with us,” Swartz said.

As part of his marshal duties, Maddox was sworn in as an honorary fireman late last month, he said. Salvanish also said he would be presented with his own fireman’s outfit — coat and suspendered trousers bearing an embroidered logo of the Logan Fire Company and his name.

Maddox rode in a yellow Chevrolet Camaro convertible, following several police cars near the front of the parade. Though he rode low in the backseat — he was, after all, safely secured in a child’s car seat — he still looked about excitedly as onlookers applauded.

Maddox received a liver transplant when he was 2 months old, his mother, Michele Raptosh said. Born with a hole in his stomach, internal bleeding had caused some of his organs to shut down.

After the hole was fixed, Raptosh said, his liver hadn’t bounced back, so he was life-flighted to Pittsburgh to look for a donor. They soon found one in one of Raptosh’s cousins.

“Now we get together every liver anniversary in October to celebrate,” she said. “He’s gotten a lot of support. I never knew a community could be so supportive.”

Maddox even shared the spotlight with his sister, Makayla, and her friend Marissa, who rode in a black Camaro right behind him. Both vehicles were provided by Stocker Chevrolet.

Maddox’s father, Matthew Raptosh, sat on the sidewalk with Maddox’s brother, Max, to watch his son pass by. He said he was excited to see his son in the parade and was also surprised by the amount of concern garnered for Maddox’s well-being.

“It gives you a whole new perspective on life and humanity,” he said. “It’s been a very interesting journey, and I’m glad we are where we are now.”

Jeremy Hartley: 814-231-4616, @JJHartleyNews