$10k Donation Helping Des Moines Police Spread Joy

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DES MOINES, Iowa — While most kids spend time daydreaming of their favorite superhero, Cayden Wheeler dresses up like one. “Every year for five years Cayden has dressed up as a police officer for Halloween,” said Cayden’s mother Erin Ellsworth.

So, when the Des Moines Police Department found out the pandemic canceled Cayden’s 9th birthday wish for a trip to Chicago they dispatched Sergeant Paul Parizek for a birthday surprise. Lights and sirens blared down Cayden’s street and the excitement was mutual. “Seeing his reaction was worth getting out of bed and coming to work today. This is one of those things that makes your career sometimes,” said Sergeant Paul Parizek with the Des Moines Police Department.

From hats and stickers to badges and handcuffs, the gift bag from officers brought a smile to a boy with Cornelia de Lange Syndrome who thought his birthday would be spent alone. “I just love when Cayden is happy I’m happy so we just take it day by day. We love just being able to interact positively with the police department. They don’t get enough credit for the hard and the good things that they do,” said Erin.

Kid and cop, bringing a small piece of normalcy to one another. Parizek said, “It’s why we get into this. These are the moments where we know we are making a difference. We know we are giving somebody the right impression of what they think a superhero is.”

The police were on the giving end for Cayden’s surprise but it was made possible because of someone else’s gift to the department. An anonymous envelope filled with $10,000 dollars came in on earlier this week with a simple request. Spread it throughout the community. “When you see somebody step up anonymously and say ‘I can afford to do this. I know there are people that can use a little boost,’ and then they use this as a conduit to help them out, it’s absolutely heartwarming. This is probably one of the greatest things we’ve seen particularly these last 30 days,” said Parizek.

Cayden hopes to become a police officer when he grows up.

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