While other children are winding down from their summer vacation and settling into the new school year, 9 year-old, cancer patient Colin Hayward Toland has been sworn in as an honorary police officer with the Ithaca Police Department in New York. The newest member of the force was sworn in Monday, September 12th at Stewart Park on the shores of Cayuga Lake.
Police sirens shrieked through the streets as Colin was escorted to the park in a police SUV and the crowd filled with classmates, community members, fellow police officers, and media chanted Colin's name with excitement. "We live in an amazing community who has really embraced it," Colin's mother Tamika Toland said to ABC News.
At a barbecue event at Southside Community Center in Ithaca Colin's parents made their acquaintance with police chief, John Barber, and mentioned he wanted to be a police officer. Barber casually mentioned to Colin he can join the force once he becomes 18 years of age. Colin mistook this as an immediate offer for a job in the career field of his dreams. Barber didn't break his heart by correcting him instead he made his dream a reality according the ABC News.
Barber approached Mayor Svante Myrick after the community event and recommended a new police officer to the force that he had met at the Southside Community Center at the event. The Mayor was apprehensive saying "Chief, you can't just pick up somebody off the street; this is a tough job."
Soon the Mayor would find out who the potential young cadet was and join in making the event possible.
According to Ithaca PD press release Colin is a promising and humorous 4th grade boy who enjoys playing video games like many other children. What sets him apart from other children is the path he has to take and his courage and tenacity during such a trying time. He was diagnosed with a malignant brain tumor, ependymoma, at the age of 2. He has been fighting cancer for most of his life. For the first year after his parents found out he underwent a full year of treatment to remove the tumor. Within this time he lost the ability to eat, speak, and walk. Soon the chemotherapy and surgeries were complete and he started to show signs of improvement starting with being able to start kindergarten.
As if his strength was not resilient enough, a relapse would send him back into the battle field but he didn't show any signs of giving up. He showed a great deal of compassion for others even though he needed compassion himself. In his silence due to him not being able to speak, he gestured to give a little girl coming out of spinal surgery his teddy bear while waiting on his treatment.
"Even when he was in his greatest need himself... He was thinking of others," Colin's father Ian Hayward said to USA Today.