From the moment Michael walked outside of his home dressed in a police uniform on the cool, windy morning, he was all smiles. It was the day the 15-year-old would become a police officer. It was the day his wish would come true.
There was just one last touch to make 15-year-old Michael’s uniform complete. With the help of officer T.J. Baker, he donned a St. Joseph County Police Department jacket. Now, he was ready for his adventure to begin.
“It’s happening,” said his mom, Karen, as Michael prepared to enter the police car. “It’s really happening.”
Michael was excited to share the day with Baker, who has served as a source of inspiration and encouragement. They both have the same rare form of cancer and they both have always wanted to be cops. Not only did Baker spend the day with Michael, he was instrumental in working with Make-A-Wish® Michigan to plan Michael’s wish.
Members of the Sturgis community lined the street to cheer Michael on as he rode in the police car through downtown Sturgis. He was greeted at the Sturgis Police Department by a row of officers, all standing at attention, ready to welcome their newest member to the force.
After spending the morning being sworn in as a police officer, receiving his id and badge, and touring the station, he was surprised by classmates from Sturgis High School who came to share encouraging words.
“Hang in there buddy,” one classmate told him as the group presented him with cards, gifts and well wishes.
Then Michael was off to Centreville to have lunch at Yoder’s Country Market. Of course this was the only logical choice. After all, it’s where cops frequently hang out for lunch.
Michael’s afternoon was filled with activities at the St. Joseph County Courthouse where he was sworn in as an assistant prosecutor, taken on a tour and led to his very own office.
But when duty called, Michael was ready to roll up his sleeves and take care of police business. He received word that a chain saw had been stolen from a local barn. Michael arrived at the barn to collect fingerprints and statements from witnesses. After gathering the evidence, he heard the alert over the police radio that the “suspect vehicle” had been spotted, and Michael was ready to go. Lights and sirens blaring, he jumped in the police car, arriving just in time.
“Get out of the car,” a normally mild manner Michael yelled at the ‘suspect.’ “You’re under arrest.”
With the case of the stolen chain saw solved, Officer Michael headed to the Three Rivers Municipal/Doctor Haines Airport where he was greeted by more than 30 officers from state and local police agencies. But his work wasn’t quite done. With the help of a police dog, he found a bag with suspicious contents inside a car and watched as the police dog subdued the bad guy.
“That’s cool!” Michael said.
Michael’s day was capped off with a helicopter ride back to Sturgis where he joined his family and community supporters for pizza and Spiderman cupcakes.
As the day drew to a close, this wasn’t the end of Michael’s wish. For Michael and his family, it was just the beginning . He had taken an oath to serve the community with honor and integrity. And that’s exactly what he planned to do.
“Mom, I can’t believe I’m an official police officer!” Michael told his mom that night.