After an amazing display of heroism in a harrowing situation, six-year-old Bridger Walker and his family who are members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (often referred to as “the Mormon Church”), are spreading a message of love and a call to “comfort those in need of comfort.”
On 9 July 2020, while Bridger and his four-year-old sister were playing in a friend’s backyard in Cheyenne, Wyoming, they were suddenly charged by a dog. Not wanting his little sister to be harmed, Bridger became her shield of protection by bravely stepping in front of her. The dog leaped and latched on to Bridger’s cheek. When the dog finally released, Bridger grabbed his sister by the hand and led them to a part of the yard where he felt they would be safer.
The dog’s owner than ran outside, secured the dog, rushed Bridger inside, and called for emergency help. Bridger was rushed to the hospital and underwent a two-hour surgery to pull his face and scalp back together. He received over 90 stitches.
In a statement made by the Walker family on Instagram, they said, “Since COVID-19 hit the world with all its fury, we have also taken time out of our busy schedules to sit as a family each Sunday. We discuss how each family member is doing, going over the goals set by each of our children and reading from the scriptures. Bridger commonly remembers more than his siblings, actively contributes, and amazes us with his ‘old-soul’ insights.” Their statement also pointed out that prior to the horrific incident, they had “just discussed personal service and sacrifice” during their family time on Sunday. Clearly that was one discussion that Bridger took to heart.
At the hospital, as Bridger’s father waited with him before surgery, his father asked him about what had happened. When Bridger explained that he stepped in front of his sister to protect her from the vicious attack, his father asked him why he did what he did. His reply, also recorded in the family’s Instagram statement, was, “If someone had to die, I thought it should be me.” The Walkers also shared on Instagram that there has been a special bond between Bridger and his little sister since the day she was born. He was only 18 months old at the time.
Bridger’s courageous act of love and sacrifice has not gone unnoticed. His story has been covered by major news outlets, including Yahoo! And ABC News. Wanting to help cheer her nephew up after the incident, Nicole Walker shared his story on her Instagram page, hoping to get some “words of encouragement from his favorite heroes.” The response was overwhelming. The actors that played Captain America, Iron Man, and Spiderman all sent messages applauding Bridger for his bravery.
Actor Chris Evans, who played Captain America, told Bridger, “Pal, you’re a hero” and promised to send him an authentic Captain American shield, which his little sister suggested he “take everywhere you go.” Actor Robert Downey Jr., who played Iron Man, told Bridger he was a “Rockstar” and to give him a call on his next birthday for a special surprise. Bridger also got a call from his favorite superhero, Spiderman. Tom Holland, the actor who played Spiderman, invited Bridger to come visit him on the set when they start filming the third Spiderman movie.
Bridger also received messages from Chris Pratt, Anne Hathaway, and Zachary Levi. His aunt’s original Instagram post about his story has garnered more than 1.5 million likes. After sharing that Bridger enjoys collecting rocks, people started sending him pictures of interesting rocks and asking if they could send him some in the mail. The family has since set up a P.O. box address for people to send care packages.
Many concerned people asked what they could do to help Bridger. In lieu of financial assistance, the family suggested donating to a few different charities. The family also used the scriptures as their basis for a gospel-centered message to the world.
The family wrote, “Somewhat ironically, prior to Bridger’s injury, our family had been discussing what we would say if we could spread one single message to the entire world. We had no real expectation we’d ever get a chance.”
They continued, “After Bridger’s actions, our family has settled on a simple request: may we each actively strive to bear one another’s burdens; stand up for and protect those that are weak, oppressed, or those whom the world might forsake; mourn with those that mourn, comfort those that stand in need of comfort, and love one another. May we follow Bridger’s example, approach the world as a child, and bring greater peace to our own homes, communities, states, and countries.”
Bridger offers his own challenge to everyone. #TheBridger Challenge is as follows: “I challenge you on the first weekend in September to do something heroic for someone else. Find the heroes in the community or be a hero yourself.” Some of his ideas for being a hero include cleaning your little sister’s room, donating blood, or forgiving someone who has hurt your feelings. People are encouraged to send their stories of heroes they know to The [email protected]. The six-year-old “old-soul” says, “We can make the world a little better one heroic deed at a time.”