Marine officers make time for a huge fan with a special visit

Posted On Wednesday July 08, 2020
On June 30, S/Sgt. Sheehy, Sgt. Lushman and Cst. Paul Baechler showed up in uniform at Thomas’ house
On June 30, S/Sgt. Sheehy, Sgt. Lushman and Cst. Paul Baechler showed up in uniform at Thomas’ house

Thomas, like everyone, has been coping with the restrictions around Covid19.

“He usually goes to a special-needs day program in Westboro and he’s used to seeing all the people in our neighbourhood,” said his mother Perri, “so it’s been hard that the social interactions that mean so much to him have been taken away.”

On May 16, 2020, Thomas and his father took a walk to the Nepean Sailing Club launch to watch the boats go in and out of the water. To Thomas’ delight, the Ottawa Police Marine Unit was there, launching one of their police boats to patrol the upper reach of the Ottawa River.

Thomas was excited to see Staff Sergeant Marc-Andre Sheehy and Sgt. Walter Lushman.

The officers took some time to talk to Thomas and his father and they posed for a picture, taken with S/Sgt. Sheehy’s phone.

“It was so nice to see his enthusiasm,” said S/Sgt Sheehy. “Thomas had a huge smile on his face. This was the most excitement he’d seen in a while.”

Staff Sergeant Sheehy decided to get an enlargement of the photo framed for Thomas as a surprise. He reached out to him mom to arrange it.

On June 30, S/Sgt. Sheehy, Sgt. Lushman and Cst. Paul Baechler showed up in uniform at Thomas’ house to deliver the photo. “Thomas was beyond thrilled to see them and to receive such a thoughtful gift,” said Perri. “He wanted to see the police truck, and they let him sit in the driver’s seat. He was grinning ear to ear. Then he asked his special friends to play basketball, his favourite sport.”

The officers donned their masks and played basketball with Thomas in his driveway.

“It meant so much to both of us,” said Perri. “Everyone in the neighbourhood knows Thomas and several of them came up to the officers to thank them for their kindness.” 

Even the mail carrier, who has a special relationship with Thomas because it’s his job to get the mail, took S/Sgt. Sheehy aside to tell him, “what you are doing here is amazing.”

Perri believes the officers’ visit is a great lesson in acceptance. “It takes patience and effort to speak with Thomas because of his limitations, but the officers did exactly that. I hope others take from this story how much families appreciate it when anyone makes the effort in these circumstances. Maybe you know someone with special needs in your neighbourhood who would welcome some interaction.”

A re-match between the Marine, Dive and Trails officers and Thomas will be scheduled in the near future.

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