It probably will be a long time before Liam Lamb, 8, stops gently hopping up and down for joy.
It will be an even longer time before he stops smiling.
On Friday, Liam of Janesville received an ambulance all his own, a thing he never imagined could happen.
Liam is on the autism spectrum, and ambulances—and other emergency vehicles—are just his thing, said his mom, Beth Lamb.
“His room is decorated with them,” she said. “He wants to be an EMT when he grows up.”
Here’s how Liam got his ambulance:
Liam’s special-education teacher at Edgerton’s Community Elementary School is Cassie Tellefson. She is the daughter of Bill Morrison. He is the owner of Morrison’s Auto Parts on Highway 59, which is where cars go to meet their makers.
Officials at Mercyhealth in Janesville contacted Morrison when they wanted to get rid of a decommissioned ambulance that had served as a training vehicle.
The ambulance had reached the point where repairs would cost more than the vehicle was worth, said Ashley Vickers, a Mercyhealth spokeswoman.
When Morrison told Mercyhealth about Liam’s dream, they decided to donate the vehicle to him.
So on Friday, when Tellefson drove into Morrison’s lot with Liam, they found it crowded with people: his family, his teachers, his friends and Morrison’s staff members.
Liam got out of his teacher’s car. Ignoring the crowd, he began to take video of the ambulance with his phone.
“He likes to take video,” his father, Jon Lamb, said. “He sets up his toys and makes little movies.”
Liam climbed into the back of the ambulance, grinning the whole time and bouncing and/or jumping up and down on his feet.
Then they told him the ambulance was his to take home.
For a few seconds, he seemed to be trying to take the information in. He could take this home? When he was reassured that it was really his, Liam’s grin spread and finally transformed into a laugh.
He smiled. He laughed. He jumped up and down. He opened cabinets, checked out the front seat, peered into all the outside lockers. When his family and teachers clamored for a photo, he turned to them, grinned and said, “Cheese.”
And then he’d be off again.
When Edgerton police officer Brody Kapellen arrived, Liam ran to him. Flinging himself at the officer, Liam told him that vehicle right there was his ambulance.
“That’s great, buddy,” Kapellen replied.
After taking a brief moment to turn on the squad car’s lights, Liam went back to inspecting his new toy.
Liam didn’t have much time to talk to anybody, but when asked to name his favorite part of the vehicle, he said it was “the brakes.”
They’re air brakes, his father explained.
He also expressed a desire to put a skeleton on the outside.
The old ambulance will go home with the Lambs. They plan to make it into a playhouse for their son—and any other kids on the autism spectrum who might share Liam’s delight in emergency vehicles.
Whenever that happens, Liam probably will still be smiling.