The newest class of Macon-Bibb firefighters will soon graduate from training. For one recruit, graduation day will mean much more than just a promotion.
Brett Mitchell is training his body and his mind as he prepares to become a firefighter, but he won’t be the first in his family to don turnout gear.
“Dad would run and jump on the firetruck and immediately put all his gear on and he would always turn the lights and sirens on immediately, so that I could hear them,” said Brett’s mother, Dana Booth.
His mom and aunts fondly remember their father, Lt. Bobby Donaldson, also known as ‘Bobby D.’
“He made everybody feel loved. He made everybody feel special and he never put anybody down. He brought out everybody's best qualities,” said Brett’s aunt, Elaine Thomas.
Brett and his grandpa were close and he had always thought about becoming a firefighter like Bobby D.
At the end of high school, he decided he needed a more stable career and entered nursing school instead.
“Honestly… I saw the nursing money and then I hated It. You know, I realized it’s not about the money, I want to do what I’m happy with,” said Mitchell.
When Bobby D died in 2014, Brett decided he wanted his legacy to live on.
“He said, ‘I miss him so bad... he would be devastated if he knew that I was this sad. Instead of making him sad, I want to carry on his legacy and make him proud of me,’” recalled Booth.
He dropped out of nursing school and applied to the Macon-Bibb Fire Department.
With less than a month of training left, his family says he’ll be his class valedictorian.
“I hope so. I think I’m somewhere near the top. If I am; awesome. If I’m not; I’ll be just as happy for my brother who gets it,” said Mitchell.
Bobby D won’t be there when Brett graduates from training, but his family says they know how he’d feel.
“I wish I could tell him right now so bad. I think that he would be so proud that he would almost burst,” said Booth.
Soon enough, Brett will get his chance to leave his mark on the department that his grandfather served for 32 years.