Eaton Rapids Police Help Boy in Need

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He's got a smile a mile wide and a personality to match. But 11-year-old Chance Collins can't communicate his pleasure with words.

But Collins didn't need them Saturday. The smile said it all.

The Eaton Rapids Police Department "rolled out the red carpet" for Collins, after his father approached them with an idea for a very special birthday gift: give his son a tour of the police station.

"It all started with us trying to entertain him," said Patrick Collins.

Chance is a police fanatic. He loves the TV show COPS and now has police lights and sirens adorning his wheelchair. Chance has an neurological condition -- diagnosed as leukodystrophy -- that leaves him in a wheelchair and unable to communicate. He was afflicted suddenly when he was three years old.

"Anything we could do as a police department to let Chance have a great day, we were all about doing," said Eaton Rapids Police Chief Larry Weeks. "Certainly I was all in,"

They did it with a full tour, showing off handcuffs, fire engines and even a ride in a police cruiser for Chance -- definitely the highlight.

"I think his limitations and what he watches other kids do and communicate that he wants those things," said Stephanie Collins. "You could see that look on his face [when he got in the car] like 'Ha! I get to do something you guys aren't doing.'"

"It was truly amazing," said Officer Mike Cheadle, who was driving that police car. "To make a kid's birthday wish come true, let alone his dream come true of being an officer; you meet Chance, he truly is an inspiration."

His smile captured the hearts of the police department, Weeks said, so much so that they decided to take the gift a step further. Weeks and the department want to help the Collins family get a TOBII -- a computer with eye-gazing technology that would enable Collins to communicate with his parents at home.

"The fact that they can't communicate with their son and he can't share thoughts of hunger or pain or just to be able to say I love you mom and dad is really just amazing to me that that doesn't exist for them," Weeks said. "And any way we can help make that happen for them would be great."

Weeks is working to find out more information about the cost of a TOBII, and the feasibility of websites to collect money to buy one.

"It's incredible to me to think that there's people of this stature in this community that can do things like that for us," said Patrick Collins. "I never thought that it was possible. And it's overwhelming."

It's a purchase the police department says it very much wants to help with.

"That's something I would take with me the rest of my life," said Cheadle. "The fact that I can honestly say I affected someone's life, let alone a young boy; that in itself is amazing."

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