A 7-year-old boy hailed as a hero last year when he risked his life to protect his younger sister from a brutal dog attack is “proud” of his facial scars and doesn’t see himself as special, according to his father.
Little Bridger Walker of Cheyenne, Wyo., needed 90 stitches for the damage to his face after he jumped in front of his younger sister to save her from being attacked by a German Shepherd. He’s since undergone multiple procedures, some pro bono, since then on his face, which has reduced the scarring.
At the time, he explained his actions by saying, “If someone had to die, I thought it should be me.”
His dad, Robert, told People magazine that Bridger is still as humble a year later.
“My wife and I asked him, ‘Do you want it to go away?’ And he said, ‘I don’t want it to go all the way away,’” the father of five says. “Bridger views his scar as something to be proud of, but he also doesn’t see it as being representative of his brave act. He just perceives it as, ‘I was a brother and that’s what brothers do.’ It’s a reminder that his sister didn’t get hurt, and that she is okay.”
“It almost bothers him sometimes when he’s called a hero, because he [thinks], ‘Maybe I could have done more to shield her,’” Robert said.
Celebrities — including Chris Evans, Mark Ruffalo and Brie Larson — as well as strangers all over the world reached out with gifts and letters for Bridger.
“It was certainly unexpected when everything went viral,” Robert said. “It is not something we’d ever want to relive, but the light certainly outshone the darkness by exponential degrees.”
“Chris Evans, his video was amazing and he sent the shield. Bridger couldn’t have been more delighted,” Robert said. “When he talked to Tom Holland, he was probably the most starstruck because that was a live call so that one certainly left an impression… His emotional recovery was really a worldwide effort and that was so special to us.”
Bridger also attracted the attention of New York dermatologist Dr. Dhaval Bhanusali, who flew him out and treated him at his office for free.
“He gave us so much hope,” said Robert, who said other doctors were pessimistic about how much they could help fix Bridger’s face. “That was kind of our first rainbow after all of this.”
When the pandemic made cross-country trips to see Dr. Bhanusali difficult, Bridger began seeing a doctor in Utah who also helped repair his scars.
All of them have since helped reduce Bridger’s scarring and made him smile and feel optimistic again, his father said.