In case you missed it, the incredible story of Bridger Walker has gone viral over the past few days. The six-year-old boy has made headlines for his heroic efforts to save his little sister from a charging dog, suffering bite wounds to his face and head that required about ninety stitches.
Bridger’s aunt, Nicole Walker, shared the story on Instagram, where it quickly gained traction.
“Hey, all. Please, share my nephew’s story so that it gets as much exposure as it can. We know that our little hero would love some words of encouragement from his favorite heroes. On July 9th, my six year old nephew Bridger saved his little sister’s life by standing between her and a charging dog. After getting bit several times on the face and head, he grabbed his sister’s hand and ran with her to keep her safe. He later said, “If someone had to die, I thought it should be me.” After receiving 90 stitches (give or take) from a skilled plastic surgeon, he’s finally resting at home. We love our brave boy and want all the other superheroes to know about this latest hero who joined their ranks. @tomholland2013@chrishemsworth@robertdowneyjr@markruffalo@prattprattpratt@twhiddleston@chadwickboseman@vindiesel@chrisevans
EDIT: I just finished visiting with Bridger at his home. His wounds are looking so much better! He’s in great spirits, and his awesome personality is intact. He can’t smile too widely yet, but he was grinning as I read some of your comments to him. I’d also like to mention here that the dog’s owners are really great people who have been nothing but kind to Bridger and his family. We feel no resentment toward them at all, and—if anything—there’s only been an increase of love between our families as a result of this incident.
EDIT 2: Once again we’re blown away by the amazing comments and messages that Bridger’s receiving. I’ve had lots of inquiries about a GoFundMe. Bridger’s family has asked that any one wishing to help out financially can, instead, donate to @mission_22 or @wwp. Bridger is also a huge fan of Science, especially Geology. So I’m going to start a post where people can share with him pictures of cool rocks that they see.“
Since then, Bridger’s act of selflessness has earned the attention of a number of celebrities (including many actors who are a part of the Marvel franchise), and Chris Evans sent him a personalized video detailing his plans to send him an official Captain America shield.
As it turns out, Bridger is one of our own. In a comment on Nicole’s post, Bridger’s father, Robert (who also trains jiu-jitsu), revealed that his son is actually a jiu-jitsu practitioner.
“I was reflecting this last weekend about Bridger’s first jiu jitsu tournament. He was so disappointed he came in 4th place and didn’t get a medal. We did our best to assure him that how he placed didn’t matter because we knew he did his best. So when he selflessly saved his sister this week, I’m not sure how much was his couple years of training and how much was his little warrior heart and the indescribable love he has for his sister. Regardless, he has earned the title as undisputed champion in our home.”
The Jiu-Jitsu Times reached out to Robert, who said that he and the family are, understandably, taking some time to handle the “media avalanche.” For the time being, though, the family has released a statement detailing the events that occurred, as well as offering some insight to the family’s jiu-jitsu experience. The statement can be read below:
“In early 2016, Bridger’s world was rocked. At nineteen months old, we introduced him to his brand-new baby sister. As his parents, we were anxious about how he would react, but without hesitation, he jumped into the oversized hospital chair and waited patiently for his turn to hold her. Since that moment, it was clear to us that there was a special bond between him and his sister. His little chubby-cheeked smile filled the room. When his grandpa asked for a turn, Bridger pointed to his chest, indicating that he wasn’t giving her up. And so it continued for the next 15 minutes. Anytime anyone attempted to take her from him, again, he would point at his chest. He had waited for his turn, and he wasn’t going to give her up.
Since that time, Bridger rarely strays far from his litter sister, often to the irritation of her much less social nature. Bridger is gregarious, always learning, so full of love, and an absolute joy to have in our lives. Our home and our hearts would feel empty without him.
Over the last two years, Bridger, his father, and his older brother have taken on the great challenge of training in Brazilian jiu-jitsu at their local academy. Bridger has always been one of the youngest and smallest in the class. The size difference has given him the opportunity to confront larger and more experienced opponents regularly. Even though he is often short on attention, Bridger has grown in maturity and ability. We can honestly say that his closest friends train with him at Black Label Jiu-Jitsu.
When his brother recently decided to compete in a local grappling tournament, Bridger demanded we register him to compete in the youngest age bracket — much to our consternation. After coming in fourth place, and his brother in first, he was utterly crushed that he did not get a medal. As his parents, we did our best to assure him that it was for fun, that we knew he did his best, and that he showed great heart and courage. Driving home, as we discussed, we could tell his disappointment was the start of a great determination.
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 various 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.
So on July 9, 2020, it was no surprise to us that he stepped up to the plate in a major way. Please know that we have no desire to embellish what transpired. Our knowledge of events is necessarily limited to what we have heard from our now four-year-old daughter and from Bridger’s own account of events.
While at a friend’s house, Bridger and his sister went into the home’s back yard. Upon entering the yard, the child with them pointed to one dog and said, ‘That is the nice dog,’ and pointed to the other dog in the yard, explaining, ‘That is the mean one.’
Bridger explained how, at that moment, the mean one ran at them. In Bridger’s words, ‘I stepped to the side, in front of my sister so that the dog wouldn’t get her. I kept moving, so it couldn’t get past.’
Tragically, instead of running off, the dog leaped and latched onto Bridger’s cheek. Bridger explained that when the dog bit him, he yelled for his sister to run. After the dog released, Bridger ran to his sister and led her to a more secure part of the yard where he thought they would be safe.
At that point, we understand the dog’s owner secured the dog, ran Bridger inside, began applying pressure to the wounds, and called for emergent care. We are forever and sincerely grateful for the love and care they provided. As Bridger’s parents, we were, of course, devastated at the news and were immediately by Bridger’s side.
Once the firefighters and EMTs arrived, we were able to begin evaluating Bridger’s injuries. Unsurprisingly, there was a LOT of blood — so much so that the firefighters asked Bridger if they could cut off his shirt. He refused and said, ‘My mom likes me in this shirt.’ It may sound strange, but as the families sat waiting for EMTs to stabilize Bridger, my wife and I felt a strong spirit of love for all involved.
Bridger’s father was able to ride with him in the ambulance and stay by his side, while his mother went home to care for and comfort the rest of the family. On the ride to the hospital, Bridger said, ‘I always wanted to ride in the ambulance… but not like this. Maybe I can ride home in one too?’ He loves his stress ball ambulance the EMTs gave him, and he has kept it with him as a comfort ever since.
At the hospital, emergency workers immediately wheeled Bridger into a curtained-off area. The only time he cried was when he got the IV. At one point, the assigned animal control officer came to tell us that the dog was up to date on its vaccinations. She also explained that the dog’s owners were the ones that called to report the incident, that the dog was a 1-year-old German Shepherd mix rescue, and that the owners decided to put the dog to sleep. Bridger responded, ‘I don’t want anything bad to happen to the dog; is it going to be killed?’
We assured him that the animal police would take care of the dog and that he wouldn’t ever need to worry about seeing it again.
The most challenging moment for Bridger’s father was during a quiet moment between CAT scans. While he sat in a folding chair next to Bridger’s hospital bed, he began to ask about what happened and was able to gather the details above. When Bridger explained how he had shielded his sister, his father asked why he did that. Bridger, in his own words and without hesitation, declared, ‘If someone had to die, I thought it should be me.’
As a family, during a Sunday family time, we had just discussed personal sacrifice and service. Yet, at that moment, Bridger was the teacher. Bridger’s father was able to keep it together just long enough for emergency workers to wheel Bridger into surgery. The surgery would be a nearly two-hour procedure; it involved pulling his face and scalp back together, holding it in place with over 90 stitches. Before leaving the ER for surgery, the incredible supervising doctor, Doctor Jordan Greer II, turned to Bridger’s father and said, ‘I want you to know he is the bravest patient I’ve ever had… I really mean it.’
The following morning — when his skilled and amazing plastic surgeon — Dr. Joseph F. Looby, checked in, he asked Bridger whether he had any pets.
Bridger explained that he had two dogs, Elektra and Thor. When asked what kind of dogs they were, Bridger shrugged his shoulders and said, ‘nice ones.’
Upon returning home, Bridger’s little sister was so excited to see him. She ran to her father and declared that Bridger had protected her, that there was soooooo much blood, and that she was ‘totally freaked out.’ Bridger’s whole family now appreciates all those little moments a little more now, understanding with a new realization of how fast life can turn.
In an effort to cheer Bridger up, his amazing Aunt Nicole shared his story on Instagram in hopes of getting just a few shout-outs from Bridger’s favorite big-screen superheroes (or possibly Mr. Beast — his favorite YouTube personality). The response has been both surprising and humbling. Our family was entirely unprepared. We are so appreciative of all the kind words, love, and prayers extended. Numerous times throughout the day, we will break into genuine tears after reading how our little Bridger touched a life. At the time of this release, we have received tender, heartfelt messages from his heroes and many others including: Hugh Jackman, Zachary Levi, Tom Holland, Anne Hathaway, the Russo brothers, Robbie Amell, and Mark Ruffalo, as well as countless others from around the world. The love and support we have received astounds us.”
The family has explicitly stated that they won’t be requesting financial assistance, instead asking those who want to help to donate to Operation Underground Railroad, Mission 22, and/or the Wounded Warrior Project. They have also asked people to keep the dog’s owners in their prayers.
In their final request in their statement, the family said this: “May we each actively strive to hear 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 need 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.”
Whether Bridger got this incredible courage from jiu-jitsu or elsewhere, his story will be remembered as one of unbelievable bravery when it mattered most.
The Jiu-Jitsu Times will provide an update if we receive more information from Robert Walker.