It was a simple Christmas wish from a terminally ill 6-year-old boy more than 600 miles away that has caught the attention of many local police officers this holiday season.
While Nathan Norman from Rustburg, Va., was undergoing a round of chemotherapy in September, he made one simple Christmas wish — to receive cards and letters from police, firefighters and other emergency personnel. His heroes.
Several local officers have answered the call by joining a convoy of more than 200 officers in 100 police vehicles — representing about 80 departments — that left yesterday to travel to Virginia to hand deliver messages to him. They will bring cards, department patches, T-shirts and other gifts for Nathan and his three siblings.
Local departments represented in the convoy include Beverly, Salem, Peabody, Marblehead and Manchester-by-the-Sea.
“You have a little boy stricken with cancer and all he wants is cards from police and firefighters,” said Beverly police officer Erik Abrahamson of Nathan’s story. “It touched me and made me want to be involved.”
Nathan was diagnosed with astrocytoma, a type of brain cancer, in 2009. He has gone through multiple surgeries and rounds of chemotherapy, but the treatments will only stabilize tumors not rid the cancer, according to his family’s website.
Abrahamson and officer Michael Backstrom joined up with the convoy yesterday morning at the Burlington Mall to represent the Beverly Police Department in the trek.
“To only be 6-years-old and be diagnosed with terminal cancer that is just tragic,” Abrahamson said. “The fact that little Nathan looks up to police and firefighters as his heroes and if it makes his day for us to come and meet him face-to-face that is the least we can do.”
Abrahamson said he heard about Burlington Sgt. Gerard McDonough’s efforts to organize the convoy and wanted to get the Beverly Police Department involved. The two officers have donated their time, while donations were collected to cover the cost of the trip and gifts.