GRAND RAPIDS (CNN NEWSOURCE) – It’s a birthday that a boy in Michigan will probably never forget. That’s because Grand Rapids Police Officer Austin Lynema made sure of it.
Officer Lynema and 9-year-old Thomas Daniel became fast friends.
Officer Lynema, 22-years-old and six months on the job saw a 9-year-old in need, capturing it all on bodycam video.
“I was finishing a call on Kindle Street and saw Thomas running down the sidewalk trying to catch up to his bus crying,” Officer Lynema said.
Thomas, along with his mom and brother who immigrated from Tanzania, was devastated.
Reporter: “Why were you so worried about missing the bus?”
Thomas: “Cause I missed school and I really want to go to school and do my work and have fun.”
Thomas loves school, never missing a day.
“Mom wasn’t able to take Thomas to school. She doesn’t have a car. So I asked if it was okay if I took Thomas to school and she said it was. And once we showed up school, you know, all my lights are on,” Officer Lynema said.
Lynema also learned this wasn’t an ordinary day, it was Thomas’s birthday.
“Thomas confided in me that he didn’t think that anybody else would show up to his birthday party because he was being bullied at school, he invited his entire class,” Officer Lynema said.
Lynema and his partner decided on a surprise of their own.
“I ring the doorbell and he comes out of his balcony and sees me and my partner. Comes downstairs and gives me my partner hug. And so we asked him Hey, where’s, where’s the Where’s everybody else? Where’s the birthday cake? Nobody showed up and there’s no cake,” Officer Lynema said.
The next day, Lynema and fellow officers went the extra mile.
“I was able to get permission to get Krispy Kreme Doughnuts for him personalized Happy birthday. A Grand Rapids Police goody bag that had shirts, hats, stickers, you know, the works for him,” Officer Lynema said.
The story made the news and now cards and gifts have turned up from across the country.
Officer Lynema and Thomas, friends today, possibly partners down the road.
Thomas says he wants to be a police officer when he grows up.
Lynema, from a family of public servants, driven to go above and beyond, helping a young man and his family as they begin their American dream.