HUNTINGTON, WV (WOWK) – 23-year-old Evan Pauley had one dream, to be a firefighter in Huntington. However, at a young age, he found out there could be some obstacles that might prevent that from happening.

“I’ve wanted to be a Huntington firefighter since I was a little boy. But when I found out I had autism, it was like that job was taken away from me,” Pauley says.

Pauley’s family says he doesn’t like loud noises and being a firefighter, there are many of them.

For a long time he has been working up the courage to ride in a fire engine and with a little help from family, he was finally able to do so.

His first experience was during the Huntington Fire Prevention Parade on Monday. He rode in the cab of a Huntington Station 5 fire engine while his uncle Josh Blake, who’s a Huntington firefighter, rode in the back.

Pauley says at that moment, knowing his uncle was there really made a difference.

“I was nervous at first, I had butterflies in my stomach and then I realized it’s going to be fine because I’ve waited 23 long years for this moment. Then when I realized he was on the top of that truck, I realized, oh he’s going to be there with me,” Pauley says remembering this milestone in his life.

While this was an experience he says, “was the happiest day in my life,” his journey isn’t over yet. He says he plans to attend more parades in the near future.