Stephanie Kenning and her 8-year-old son, Coltin, had a four-hour window between appointments at Mayo Clinic in Rochester last month. Normally they'd head back to their hotel room. But Stephanie wanted to do something special for Coltin, who continues to battle more than 40 separate health issues that the Rochester Post-Bulletin reports have resulted in "countless operations, including 17 brain surgeries" at Mayo Clinic.
"I knew it was going to be a really tough week of appointments for us, and Coltin literally hasn't been able to do anything since the end of March," Stephanie tells us. So she emailed the Rochester Police Department, hoping for just a short visit with an officer. "He looks up to law enforcement officers so much, so I knew this would help take his mind off of things for a bit."
After receiving Stephanie's email, the Rochester Police Department did much more than hang out with Coltin between appointments. As the Post-Bulletin, KTTC News, KIMT-3 News and KAAL-TV all report, they also offered him a job. Post-Bulletin public safety reporter Emily Cutts writes Rochester Police Chief Jim Franklin went all-out by making Coltin an honorary member of his police force. Not to mention giving him "a pizza lunch at Pasquale's Neighborhood Pizzeria, a swearing-in by the city clerk, and a proclamation from Mayor Kim Norton."
"There are a couple of requirements that we look for when we hire police officers," Chief Franklin said during Coltin's swearing-in ceremony. "One of those things is people of courage. … Coltin, I think you exemplify that core value for a police officer. That is why today, I'd like to offer you a job."
With tears in her eyes, Stephanie says the Rochester Police Department, and the city of Rochester as a whole, went "way above and beyond" in providing the experience and distraction she'd hoped for Coltin. "I would have never imagined they would have done what they did," she tells us. "It was way above and beyond what I'd asked for, and we're so very grateful and thankful for it."
Looking back, Stephanie tells us her appreciation isn't just about what the Rochester Police Department did for Coltin, but more so in how they made him feel. "The smile they put on his face was priceless," she says. "Just to see him enjoy life a little was so great because he doesn't ever get to do that with everything he has to go through medically. The Rochester Police Department took this to a whole other level."
A level Stephanie says will help provide the emotional lift she and Coltin need to continue moving forward in their ongoing fight. "We'll basically be spending the entire month of October at Mayo Clinic," she says.
Only now they'll be spending that time in a city that feels more like home with each passing day. "His doctors and nurses have become like extended family members," Stephanie says. "We feel so accepted and like we're a part of the community now. From the Rochester Police Department, to everyone at Mayo Clinic, to the entire Rochester community, everyone's done so much to put joy into Coltin's life. It means the world to us."
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