Updated: June 05, 2020 07:04 PM
Created: June 05, 2020 04:37 PM
A small good deed in the midst of last weekend's riots has turned into a special bond between Minneapolis firefighters and a baby in the NICU.
Brandon Loftus was watching as flames raged across the Twin Cities and felt compelled to help.
"I noticed that the fire department had been going nonstop," Loftus said. "I ended up going to the only grocery store on Lake Street that was open and bought all of the cases of water they had left."
He spent the night hand-delivering bottled water to crews at various scenes.
"We felt we could use all the good karma we could get," Loftus said.
Loftus is a firefighter himself in Grantsburg, Wisconsin, but has been making the two-hour drive back and forth to Minneapolis. His son is in the NICU at Children's Minnesota.
Baby Asher was born at 25 weeks, 4 days gestation back in November.
"He was, I believe, the fourth-smallest baby born," said Asher's mother, Katrina Loftus. "He only weighed 13.5 ounces."
Over the past 7 months, Asher has had 13 infections, several bouts of pneumonia and is on a ventilator.
"He's still fighting. He went from 13.5 ounces to 14 pounds," Katrina Loftus said. "He's our little warrior."
Because they live two hours away, the couple has been staying at a hotel, with medical bills and living expenses adding up.
"It's been difficult," Katrina Loftus said. "But ever since we had Asher, we've experienced miracles every day."
The firefighters they helped during the riots turned out to be one of those miracles.
"Minneapolis Fire reached out and said, 'You know, one of our brothers is in need,'" said Jake LaFerriere.
LaFerriere served almost 15 years on Minneapolis Fire Department and now runs a local nonprofit called Firefighters for Healing, which provides support for first responders and burn survivors.
"For Brandon and his wife to be out in the community, giving back to the firefighters, in the state of the world we're in right now, is just so heartfelt," LaFerriere said. "It is very contagious and motivating for others to see and to feel that."
LaFerriere said Firefighters for Healing will cover the family's lodging and parking expenses while Asher is in the NICU.
The Loftus family was overwhelmed by the unexpected gesture, saying sometimes the smallest acts of kindness can have a bigger impact than you realize.
"I could see why people would think, 'I'm just one person. What difference can I make?'" Brandon Loftus said. "But think about it. You bring one case of water to a group of firefighters. They stay hydrated and they save a business. That business in turn helps an entire community. So one person can make a difference for the community."
The Loftus' said doctors expect their son to remain in the NICU for another 5 months, until his first birthday. They said they are so grateful for the support from Minneapolis Fire Department and Firefighters for Healing.
"Everyone's fighting their own battle," Katrina Loftus said, "and we're all in this together at the end of the day."
If you would like to follow Asher's journey, visit his CaringBridge page.
A GoFundMe has been started to help the family with their mounting medical bills. Click here if you'd like to help.
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