Franklin police help boy’s dream come true
Published 10:52 am Saturday, June 18, 2016
The Franklin Police Department recently helped a 6-year-old boy’s dream come true. The department joined what is known as Team Aaron, a nationwide force to help a leukemia survivor who has recently undergone a transplant at Duke University.
The Franklin Police Department was approached by Lt. Pete Paschul with the Carlsbad Police Department in California. Paschul contacted Sgt. Scott Halverson with the FPD to see if they would be willing to donate coins and police badges to Aaron.
Halverson, FPD Chief Phillip Hardison and the rest of the department were so moved by the project, they not only donated items to Aaron, they also set out and got other Virginia departments and agencies involved.
“He [Halverson] took it upon himself and sort of championed this cause, and I helped him throughout the Hampton Roads area,” Hardison said. “He started a drive to collect patches, travel coins and any other memorabilia we could get our hands on to present to Aaron.”
With the help of Durham North Carolina’s ABC 11 and Larry Green with The Real Bearded Santa’s, the word was able to get out to several departments in Virginia, North Carolina, California and West Virginia, resulting in being able to donate over 50 badges and coins to Aaron.
On June 7, Chief Hardison and Halverson traveled to Durham to meet with the Duke University Police Department to deliver the items they were donating, as well as the ones they had collected. Although Aaron was shy at first, Hardison said he eventually became overwhelmed with joy at the sight of all his new police gear, which also included a specially made Franklin Police polo shirt.
He also was able to enjoy a ride behind the wheel of one of the Duke University Police cop cars.
“As you can imagine he was little bit tired and a little bit shy initially, but within a matter of minutes he came back to life and was as excited as any 6-year-old you have ever seen,” Hardison continued.
“To the credit of the Duke University police department also, there was a Lt. Thomas that was assigned to us from the Chief’s office there and he did a wonderful job facilitating anything and everything that we needed while we were guests at their facility.”
The FPD also made Aaron an honorary member of the department.
“Aaron appears to be doing really well. It was a privilege for us to be able to meet him,” Hardison added.
When the Mayor of the City of Franklin, Raystine Johnson-Ashburn, heard of what the FPD did for Aaron, she was more than excited and pleased with their gesture.
“On behalf of the council, I would like to say we are proud of our department, whether it is a sick child away or a sick child locally, they are still our children,” she said. “And our department steps up to the plate each time that comes around. I just want to say thank you.”
In all, the FPD officers said this experience inspired them.
“Thank you Aaron for you tremendous bravery,” they said. “If we can inspire our community just half as much as you have inspired us, the world will certainly be a much better place.”
Sioux Johnson with the Franklin Police Department contributed to this article.