By Kirk Starratt
A terminally ill Cambridge boy’s dream to be an RCMP officer when he grows up has come true just in time for his seventh birthday.
Insp. Chris MacNaugton of Kings District RCMP made Andrew Kennedy an honourary member of the force Dec. 4., presenting him with a plaque confirming his status.
Andrew, who turns seven Dec. 8, was diagnosed with brain stem glioma when he was four years and 10 months old. Doctors have him nine months to a year to live, but Andrew has greatly exceeded his original prognosis.
The plaque presentation was just the tip of the iceberg when it came to the celebration. When police agencies across Canada heard Andrew was celebrating a birthday, gifts, handmade cards and special mementos poured in from across Canada, filling the table in the RCMP’s boardroom in New Minas to overflowing.
“We’re very, very proud of Andrew, he’s our honourary Mountie,” MacNaughton said. “I know he’ll be gleaming when he sees this.”
Andrew, his brother Robert and his education assistant were also treated to a drive to school Dec. 6 in a police cruiser with an officer in red serge.
Andrew’s dad, George, said it’s very rewarding and overwhelming to see the outpouring of support for Andrew from across the country.
“It’s very nice, it’s very touching, it’s heartwarming and we’re all very thankful and grateful for everyone who has taken part in this today,” George said.
He said Andrew was quite excited by the surprise waiting for him at the police station. “He won’t say much, but it shows on his face, that’s for sure.”
The little boys parents had only told him he was going for a visit to the New Minas RCMP headquarters. George, Andrew’s mother Janet Fairclough, Robert and sister Leigh were all on hand for the surprise.
Andrew showed up for his visit sporting his RCMP uniform, which was tailored by public servant Vanessa Austin to fit him last year when he served as honourary parade marshal for the New Minas Santa Claus parade. Andrew is proud of the uniform and wears it often.
Andrew, who has undergone a tracheostomy, has difficulty speaking. He isn’t allowed to take any liquids orally, but he can have some solid foods and he enjoyed a cupcake at his birthday celebration.
The ball got rolling on the birthday event at the police station when Kings RCMP district services assistant Sally Walsh thought it would be nice to put together a photo album for Andrew of his past visits. She then decided to solicit birthday cards and small memorabilia items from members. Through the power of networking and social media, the project took on a life of its own.
MacNaughton said Andrew has been very dear to the hearts of public servants and employees of the New Minas RCMP detachment.
“What makes him so special is he’s always wanted to be a Mountie and it’s his dream to be a Mountie so we wanted to make his dream come true,” she said.
MacNaughton said the response from police and other civil servants across the country was overwhelming.