People quote Robert Walker as saying Bridger, his son, has undergone numerous procedures in the year since his brave act captured the hearts of millions.
Bridger Walker was hailed as a hero after leaping in front of a German Shepherd to protect his younger sister from an attack last year.
Bridger, who was six at the time and required 90 stitches to repair the damage to his face, justified his actions by saying, “If someone had to die, I thought it should be me.”
Bridger’s father, Robert Walker, tells People that his son still stands by those words a year later.
“‘Do you want it to go away?'” my wife and I asked. “‘I don’t want it to go all the way away,’ he said,” says the father of five children. “Bridger thinks his scar is something to be proud of, but he doesn’t think it represents his brave act. He simply thinks, ‘I was a brother, and that’s what brothers do.’ It serves as a reminder that his sister was not injured and is fine. “
“It almost bothers him sometimes when he’s called a hero, because he thinks, ‘Maybe I could have done more to protect her,'” he adds sweetly of his now 7-year-old son.
Bridger, of Cheyenne, Wyoming, captured the hearts of millions around the world last July when he jumped into action to save his sister.
When his aunt, Nikki Walker, posted about the incident on Instagram, the incredible story went viral, with stars from all over Hollywood praising the little boy, including the Avengers cast: Chris Evans (Captain America), Mark Ruffalo (The Hulk), and Brie Larson (Captain Marvel).
Not only were celebrities involved. Strangers worldwide who had heard about Bridger’s story were also writing him letters and sending him meaningful gifts to show their support.
“Everything going viral was certainly unexpected,” Robert says. “It’s not something we’d ever want to relive, but the light outshone the darkness by orders of magnitude.”
“Chris Evans’ video was incredible, and he sent the shield. Bridger couldn’t have been happier. “He goes on. He was probably the most starstruck when he spoke with Tom Holland because it was a live call, and that one certainly left an impression. His emotional recovery was truly a global effort, which was very special to us. “
Bridger attracted the attention of New York City-based dermatologist Dr. Dhaval Bhanusali, who offered to fly him to his office and provide free treatment.
“He gave us so much hope,” Robert says, recalling a disappointing consultation with another doctor who told him Bridger’s scars couldn’t be treated for at least two years. “After all of this, that was our first rainbow.”
Bridger underwent two laser procedures in New York after the Walkers accepted Bhanusali’s offer. Bridger went to see Dr. Cory B. Maughan, a dermatologist in Utah after it became hard for him to travel across the country because of the pandemic. He had two more procedures.
Bridger’s scarring has since been reduced, and his smile and morale have returned.
“Dr. Bhanusali and Dr. Maughan were able to take care of the scarring almost completely in a year,” Robert says. “When we got home from the hospital, our main concern was, ‘Will he ever have a smile again, or will he always look injured?’ And seeing his smile brighten up again was more than we could have hoped for. “
Bridger “took it like a champ,” according to Bhanusali, despite the fact that the treatments aren’t “the easiest for a little guy to go through.”
“I probably looked more in pain than he did,” the dermatologist jokes.”That kid is the bravest little guy I’ve ever met. I don’t think people realized how serious the situation was.
“You want him to smile naturally, not like a muted version of himself,” Bhanusali says. “When we started seeing that, I believe after the first treatment or shortly thereafter, that was our victory — it was the best thing ever.”
According to his father, Bridger is currently waiting to see how the bottom half of his scar reacts to the last procedure before proceeding with additional treatments.
Though there will be some redness and tightening of the subdermal scarring, Robert and Bhanusali say everything looks promising.
“We still have a little bit more work to do on the superficial, redness part of it,” Bhanusali says, “but structurally everything looks so much better.” “‘When Bridger’s in junior high or high school, I want this to be a story he tells, not a memory he has to relive every day,’ I always told Robert. And I believe we will be in that situation. “
As Bridger recovers, Robert says he’s enjoying seeing his “brilliant little boy” return to his “funny, gregarious, and full-of-life” self.
Bhanusali has also witnessed it: “You can see his personality, his happiness, and his joy. “When you look into his eyes, you see a different person,” he claims.
Robert also expresses his gratitude to everyone who has shown his family so much love over the last year.
He describes the experience as “absolutely miraculous.” “There’s something special about thousands, if not millions, of people reaching out from all over the world to a stranger they’ve never met because they’re concerned about the well-being of a 6-year-old boy in the middle of Wyoming.”
“I couldn’t be happier,” he adds. And if there’s one takeaway from all of this, there are good people out there willing to go above and beyond for a little guy.