The seven-year-old boy from Cheyenne, Wyoming, in the US, was hailed as a hero last year when he jumped in front of his younger sister to save her from being attacked by a German Shepherd.
Called Bridger Walker, the boy says he’s “proud” of his scars and at the time, he explained his actions by saying: “If someone had to die, I thought it should be me.”
Bridger needed 90 stitches for the damage to his face and he’s since undergone multiple procedures, some pro bono, on his face, which has reduced the scarring, the New York Post reports.
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 said.
“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.”
Celebrities from around the world — including Chris Evans, Mark Ruffalo and Brie Larson — as well as strangers, sent Bridger gifts and letters for his act of courage.
“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.
This article originally appeared on Over60.