Very Special Night
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For His Years of Dedication
"Put on Love, which is the Perfect Bond of Unity" Col.3:14
puts flash into ill youths' lives
people with life-threatening illnesses see SWAT team raids, police dogs
and pistols in the
was the scene in the parking lot of the
felt like a big weight against my chest," said Andy Gonzalez, 17,
referring to the grenade. Gonzalez, who has hemophilia, said he didn't
think police work could be so exciting.
not every day that these teens get to fire a round at the St. Petersburg
pistol club, ride around in a police cruiser or get rescued by the SWAT
team, especially when their days are filled with hospital visits and
limited physical activity.
students, who were referred to Gatlin by area hospitals and wish
foundations, received an abbreviated version of the six-month police
academy training that all officers receive, without the uniforms,
pushups and laps. Through classroom lectures, demonstrations and
hands-on experience, they learned the basics of police work.
like how it's not just sitting at a desk all day," said Chris
Smith, 17, who also has hemophilia. Participating in the
like the dogs a whole lot," he said.
of Kerry Sarna's favorite parts was the crime scene investigation.
like to go to the scene and help people out," said Sarna, 14, who
has dwarfism. Sarna also enjoyed zipping around the parking lot in a
police cart. When he got out of the cart, he told his mom, "I'm
gonna get my license now!"
addition to vehicle and canine demonstrations, the students learned
about laws and gang intelligence and participated in a mock court trial.
the graduation ceremony Saturday, the students received plaques and
their titles as honorary officers. But Gatlin says they gain more than
just a title. They gain different outlooks on their lives.
got parents who call me back and say their kids are different now and
have more confidence," Gatlin said. A parent of a former
been one of the biggest successes about the program," he said.
Riley, 14, didn't wait until graduation to begin thinking more about his
future. Riley, who has sickle cell anemia, never thought about what he
wanted to do when he got older. But after running around in a 20-pound
SWAT vest and trying out the police motorcycles and water scooters,
Riley fell in love with police work.
a lot of action," said Riley, and he liked that.
This is what
it's all about:
honor bestowed on dad touched the family more deeply than we can ever
is a piece that made a difference
men looked out from their prison bars;
It took 53 years, with many, many detours on the way, of which I am one, but he realized that dream. He was very proud to be among St Pete’s finest. It is a noble profession. So now you are to be honored cops. Some people call them “citizens of peace”. I call them “carers of people”.
I know that Father Daddy, as we affectionately called him, is here tonight, for we have carried him here in our minds and hearts. He loved you guys. He wouldn’t miss this event for anything; fulfilling a wish, a dream, reaching for the stars.
|Thank you for honoring him, and we, his family would be honored to share a kiss, a hug and a blessing with each one of you, as Father Kanabay would have done if he were physically able to be here. Congratulations, God bless and God love you all.|
an especially nice surprise, Wish Academy founder
|And the Wish Academy graduates honored him in their own way (Group Sillystring)|
We were proud, very proud: proud of Dad, proud of Mom, proud of each other, and proud of our police department.