Boy Battling Cancer Made Honorary Officer
LEHMAN TWP. — Nathan Welby, a 6-year-old battling brain cancer, left his house Monday night wearing a police officer’s uniform, not knowing where he was going.
A short time later, he was wearing the real thing.
The Dallas Twp. boy was sworn in as a junior Lehman Twp. police officer in front of a packed room at the township’s monthly supervisors meeting. His grandfather is the town’s zoning officer.
“It was very overwhelming. We came expecting to see a few people we recognized. We walked into the room to see numerous family friends from all over. It was very special,” said the boy’s mother, Jennifer Welby. “We thought it was going to be a little thing among Lehman Twp.”
Nathan, who was diagnosed with an inoperable brain tumor in April, was given a Lehman Twp. police officer uniform and a replica badge.
Police from throughout the area came to give him some more gifts.
Wilkes-Barre police officer Alan Gribble gave Nathan a Wilkes-Barre police uniform patch.
“I want to give you a patch that’s right off my uniform that I personally wore protecting the streets of Wilkes-Barre. I want you to be as proud of wearing this as I was,” Gribble said.
A state trooper then gave Nathan a state police-themed tractor trailer toy and a patch. He then offered to let Nathan wear his hat.
“I have one of those,” Nathan said, causing the crowd to laugh.
He still tried it on and gave the trooper a salute.
State Sen. Lisa Baker and state Rep. Karen Boback provided him with citations from the state legislature and other memorabilia.
After getting all his gifts, Nathan quickly following from Lehman Twp. police officers to go for a ride in a cruiser.
The ceremony was a surprise to Nathan. His parents told him they were going to a meeting.
Next thing they knew, Nathan and his brother, Brian, were dressed in their SWAT team gear, ready to leave the house.
Jennifer Welby said it was very fitting, since Nathan wants to be a police officer when he grows up.
“He didn’t know where he was coming tonight. The two of them just bebopped out of the house wearing their SWAT gear, which is traditional wear in our house, not even realizing the significance of where they were going or where they were coming tonight and how it tied in,” Jennifer Welby said.
Nathan’s father, Jeff, said the couple noticed something wrong with the boy a few months ago when the right eye was shutting. They’ve been frequently going to the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia for treatment after it was determined he has cancer.
“He just finished six rounds of chemotherapy,” Jeff Welby said. “Radiation starts next month.”
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