The world sees him as a hero, but the little boy says, "I was a brother and that's what brothers do."
The day Bridger Walker became a big brother to his baby sister, he was only 19 months old and patiently waited in the hospital room for his turn to hold her. Since then, Bridger rarely goes too far away from his little sister and has always shared a special bond with her. The young boy from Cheyenne, Wyoming, proved just how far he would go for his little sister during an incident that took place last year in July 2020.
At the time, Bridger was 6 years old when he put himself in front of a German Shepherd that tried to attack his little sister while they were at a friend's house. "I stepped to the side, in front of my sister so that the dog wouldn’t get to her. I kept moving, so it couldn’t get past," Bridger said, according to a press release put out by bridgerstrong.org.
Even as the dog attacked Bridger, the boy's instinct was to yell at his 4-year-old sister to run. "If someone had to die, I thought it should be me," the little boy said when his father, Robert Walker, later asked him about his selfless act.
Needing 90 stitches for the damage caused to his face, Bridger had to walk in and out of hospitals several times after the incident. But the family knew that he would pull through when they soon saw a smile spread across the little boy's face.
Within no time, Bridger's story went viral and captured the hearts of millions across the globe. He was praised by strangers as well as celebrities, and he received plenty of recognition for heroically saving his sister during the attack.
Today, a year after the incident, Bridger proudly carries the scar on his face and doesn't mind if it doesn't completely go away.
"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,'" Robert told PEOPLE. "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."
The father-of-five went on to say, "It almost bothers him sometimes when he's called a hero, because he [thinks], 'Maybe I could have done more to shield her.'"
Along with all the kindness that the family has experienced, they also saw a heartwarming "rainbow" after the incident when New York City-based dermatologist Dr. Dhaval Bhanusali offered to do the treatment for free.
Calling Bridger an absolutely "champion" while receiving treatment for the scarring, Dr. Bhanusali said, "I probably showed more pain in my face doing it than he did. That kid is the bravest little dude I've ever met in my life. I don't think people quite understood the level of injury it really was."
Grateful for all the love Bridger has been showered with, his father added, "It was absolutely miraculous. For thousands—if not millions—of people to reach out from around the world, to a stranger that they've never met because they're concerned about the wellbeing of a 6-year-old boy in the middle of Wyoming... there's something special there.
"I couldn't be more grateful," Robert went on to say. "And if there's a message in all of this, it's that there are good people out there willing to do great things for a little guy."
Cover image source: WPLG Local 10/YouTube