Joel has wanted to be a police officer for more than 2 years. Last June, we were on a camping trip and an Alaska State Trooper stopped by our campsite. Joel was in awe. Adrianne told the trooper that Joel wanted to be a policeman, so he got out of the patrol car, walked up to my little boy, and presented him with a Junior State Trooper badge along with a AST pen and highlighter. Joel has been specific in his dream ever since. He wants to be a trooper. He loves that they’re heroes. He thinks they’re brave, strong, heroic, and on the hunt for villains. It has been his goal to become an Alaska State Trooper. Today, that became a reality.
Dave Eller, a former Wasilla Police Officer, who’s now an advisor with Edward Jones, contacted the Alaska State Troopers and asked Trooper Hayes, who beat cancer, if he would come and say hi to Joel. He shared Joel’s desire to be a trooper one day with Trooper Hayes. This amazing cancer survivor took the “come say hi to Joel” to a level we never imagined. Joel was hoping Trooper Hayes would come in his patrol car. Oh, how Joel was blown away. Not one, two, or three patrol cars came. Eight trooper vehicles pulled up to our house at 4pm. A dozen troopers came into our home. They all congratulated Joel on his bravery, courage, heroism, and integrity. They asked him if he wanted to become a trooper. Joel, overwhelmed with awe, simply shook his head yes. Trooper Hayes asked Joel to raise his right hand and administered the trooper oath. Joel began to smile, which is something we haven’t seen because of steroids in over 3 weeks. He nodded that he would vow to serve and protect the citizens of Alaska. With that, Trooper Hayes bestowed the honor of Junior Alaska State Trooper on my son.
Then, they gave Joel a box. Joel opened it up. Inside, was a custom-made, Joel-sized trooper uniform, made special for my son. His eyes got so huge! Adrianne took him downstairs so he could suit up. He was so stoic during the whole thing. Once he was downstairs with Adrianne, he couldn’t stop smiling and talking during the outfitting. He came hobbling up the stairs holding Adrianne’s hand to steady him going up the stairs. He walked into the living room to applause. We took pictures. He smiled, he put his tough face on, he was in heaven. After the flag was presented, the outfit was on, the poster, signed by dozens of troopers, the hat covered in signatures, and the pictures, they told Joel he could come out to the street and sit in the driver’s seat of the patrol car. He was so excited. He went outside, headed to the car, got in the driver’s seat, invited his brothers in with him (Eric gladly accepted), and flipped on the emergency lights. With the lights on, we began to take more pictures. He got out, stood by the driver’s side wheel, and posed for more pictures. He thanked the troopers and they drove away.
Today, Joel’s life was changed by the Alaska State Troopers. He came inside a different boy. He played, laughed, giggled, and had fun with his brothers. The steroids had no hold on him this evening. They couldn’t beat Trooper Shelton!
Adrianne and I talked tonight, after the boys were in bed. We’ve heard Joel say that he’d give up every single toy he’s been given in the past month if it would take the cancer away. I’m convinced that changed today. This, life-changing moment, could not be topped. It wouldn’t be worth giving up to take cancer away. I know, after watching my son today, that he would be willing to battle this vile illness over and over again to receive the honor he got today. He wouldn’t trade becoming a trooper for ANYTHING.
So many people look at something like cancer as being a horrible thing. They’re so right. However, there are some things in life that are so wonderful, so amazing, that you would do anything for the opportunity. That was today for Joel. His dream came true today.
On behalf of my son, Trooper Joel Shelton, I want to personally thank David Eller, Trooper Hayes, and the rest of the Alaska State Troopers. You changed my son’s life. You breathed joy into my sick son. You gifted him with something I could not: hope. I am forever in your debt and am gladly willing to be in said debt. My respect and admiration for your service to the people of Alaska has grown exponentially. You lay your lives on the line every day for us and today you put aside your time off to make a dream come true. Thank you.You can follow Joel's progress on Facebook here...
I realize it's popular to hate on authority, and especially police officers. Anchorage had several officer involved shootings last year and in every case people were claiming it was a power hungry cop looking to gun someone down.
But the men and women of law enforcement put their lives on the line for our safety and security. And the men and women of our Alaska State Troopers are some of the best people I've ever met. So the next time you're upset 'cause a cop pulled you over for speeding; stop whining and get over yourself. And when they come back to your window with your ticket, tell them thank you.