An honorary Raymore firefighter received a hero’s send-off following his funeral Monday morning as fire trucks and emergency vehicles stretched down West Walnut Street.
Josh Burdick, 23, died Dec. 23 following battles with muscular dystrophy and cancer.
Because of his deep fascination with firefighters and fire trucks, the South Metro Fire District helped take Burdick’s casket to his final resting place at the Raymore Cemetery.
Burdick was a part of the brotherhood of firefighters at South Metro and had been officially deputized and became an honorary firefighter with the department last year.
He was known for his humor and big grin and, when he was well, Burdick spent hours at the station among firefighters simply hanging out during their shifts.
Burdick’s admiration was summed up in his Myspace screen name: “firemenaremyheroes.”
But firefighters also had a special place in their hearts for him.
“If you ever saw him around town, he always had two things: his radio and his police scanner,” said South Metro Fire District firefighter Brett Palmer, who spoke during the funeral service held at First Baptist Church in Raymore. “Josh was so full of life that he didn’t let any single challenge that life threw at him slow him down.”
At the funeral, dozens of uniformed firefighters from as far away as St. Louis, Omaha and Lawrence came to to pay their respects.
Local departments including West Peculiar and Belton were also in attendance, along with Kansas City Fire Chief Paul Berardi and other KCMO firefighters and area firefighter union leaders.
When Burdick was fighting cancer, Berardi sent him a radio so he could stay in touch with firefighters and what was going on beyond the walls of his hospital room.
Burdick’s love for firefighting also went in hand with the efforts of the Muscular Dystrophy Association — a cause close to the hearts of fire departments across the country.
“Josh was an amazing young man who had a passion for life and loved firefighters,” said Brian Studdard, executive director of MDA’s offices in Kansas City, who also attended Burdick’s service.
The MDA has had a 60-year relationship with firefighters. Annually, firefighters participate in a “Fill the Boot” fundraiser to send children with muscular dystrophy to a camp designed for them.
Throughout his childhood, Burdick had the opportunity to attend MDA camps with other kids like himself suffering from neuromuscular diseases. When he became an adult, he joined an MDA-sponsored young adult support group and also became an MDA ambassador.
Following the funeral service, Palmer and other uniformed fire officials helped transport Burdick’s casket out of the front of the church as firefighters, including the South Metro Honor Guard, lifted it onto a fire engine.
The funeral procession, including several other fire trucks, proceeded to the burial site at the Raymore Cemetery.
“Josh left the world a better place than when he found it, and for that, we will always be grateful,” Palmer said. “He lived his life the way he wanted even though there were a few bumps in the road.”