Yesterday I had a chance to witness the greatest thing anyone can see, a smile upon the face of a sick child. The San Jose Police Department’s Air Support Unit Hangar 211 at Moffett Field, CA was transformed into the ‘North Pole’ for the 4th annual Cops Care Cancer Foundation Fantasy Flight for children with cancer and other life-threatening illnesses.
The Foundation partnered with police officers and firefighters from the San Jose Police Department, Sunnyvale Department of Public Safety and Yahoo, Inc to host sick children from San Francisco Bay Area hospitals, including Lucile Packard Children’s Hospital at Stanford, Kaiser Permanente Santa Clara Medical Center and Children’s Hospital and Research Center Oakland, as well as their entire families.
The guests that were present were all families who have a child stricken with cancer or any other life threatening illness. They all arrived in the morning at Yahoo, Inc.’s Sunnyvale campus where they were greeted by the members of the various agencies. The children and their families were then offered a chance to ride aboard police cars, fire trucks, exotic cars, or a limo. Once aboard, they were able to sound the sirens and play with the lights as they were lead by a police escort to Hangar 211 at Moffett Field similar to a Presidential motorcade.
After they arrived at the hangar, local officials, police officers, firefighters, and over 100 volunteers lined the door and greeted each and every family a standing ovation as they entered the party and made them all feel like VIP’s.
Activities for the families include a ‘bubble zone’, jumper houses, face painting, carnival games, and special access to police and fire department vehicles.
But the highlight of the event was an unanticipated surprise visit by Santa Claus himself. Due to an unforeseen mechanical issue with Santa’s sleigh on a test flight in the area, Santa was left stranded. Shortly after Santa landed, Sgt Larry Ellsworth filled me in on what happened. “While I can’t tell you the exact location of the slight, as it’s classified, I can say that we (the San Jose Police Dept Air Support Unit) were just glad to be availible on such short notice. The Assistant Chief of Police Dan Katz recieved the call for distress and immediatly dispactched the helicopter to render assistance. Having some flight time in helcopters, he piloted the helicopter himself and went to pick Santa up. We have the ability with the helicopter to be able to provided this type of assistance and were glad to help.”
As POLICE 1 was dispatched with Katz and Ellsworth aboard, word spread through the hangar and soon the families lined up outside to await the arrival of Santa Claus.
And before we knew it, the helicopter, with a extra special VIP onboard, landed to an eager crowd.
“The magic of this event itself is that when we (The Cops Care Cancer Foundation) do registration, we do not take gifts from people in the community. What we do is we ask the family what their children really want this holiday season, so that when they sit on Santa’s lap and say they want this particular gift, the magic is that it is actually here. There is no dollar amount for these gifts.” said Brian Simuro, President/Founder of the Cops Care Cancer Foundation and SJPD cop.
“In addition to the sick children, the bother’s and sister’s, mom’s and dad’s also get presents too. Everybody comes, everybody gets gift and that way everybody feels included. There were a 104 kids, over 50 families, and over 200 volunteers just for today.” Simuro said. In the days prior, volunteers wrapped gifts and helped setup and decorate the large Air Support Unit hangar.
Simuro added “On a regular basis, the Foundation gives out money to families who need help paying rent, mortgage, utilities, any gifts, special requests such as going to Disneyland, and unfortunately sometime funeral expenses. And while they are here today, they will also get gift cards for Target and also money for Christmas dinner. That way, it brings the family some empowerment to have their own special service for whatever they celebrate and they can end it on a very high note.”
A special thanks to the Cops Care Cancer Foundation, SJPD Air Support Unit, SJPD, SVPD, SVFD, Yahoo, Inc and to all the children and families for putting on such a wonderful event. From all of the smiles on the childres faces, this was no doubt a tremendous success. For more information on the Cops Care Cancer Foundation, please visit their website at : http://arrestcancer.org/