A rise in police violence has left many doubting today’s justice system. Still, some cops — such as the handful from El Segundo who helped replace a teen’s stolen money — are demonstrating kindness. For a Chicago teen, sneaking into XSport Fitness was routine, as he could no longer pay for a membership. When staff phoned the feds, officer Mario Valenti offered to pay for the 15-year-old’s membership, granted he would stay out of trouble.
“After 23 years in this job, you size up people pretty quickly. And I could tell he was a gentle type of kid,” [said] Valenti.
Moved by Valenti’s gesture, the club offered to shoulder the remaining funds for a two-year membership. Teen Vincent Gonzales, an aspiring point guard, expressed his gratitude through a text and on national television. Similarly, Valenti’s good deed lifted a burden off his own shoulders.
“You get satisfaction out of helping people, especially because our job is so negative,” Valenti said.
Good cop, bad cop? In Valenti’s case, just cop, as his actions should be standard for anyone in law enforcement.
Let’s be real — the notion that our children know nothing about the value of money is a myth. Kids across the nation have donated their savings to disaster victims and the deaf community, among other groups. Next to climb on board the donation train is Sidney Fahrenbruch. The 4-year-old pledged her entire piggy bank to help a policeman with cancer.
“It all started about two years ago when she saw an officer directing traffic. It was hot outside and she said, ‘He looks thirsty; he needs water,’ and she brought him a bottle of water,’” [said Sidney’s mother Megan.]
Sidney, an avid fan of the Longmont Police Department, donated $9 to Officer Kyle Zulauf. The army vet was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer in 2015. A regular at the precinct delivering cookies and candies, Sidney has surely done her mother proud.
“It feels good that she’s so giving. She wanted to save the money for a toy but decided someone needed it more than her,” said Fahrenbruch.
When Barbies and Nerf guns are all the craze at age 4, I can say with certainty that Sidney is doing pretty darn well.
Despite their heroism, veterans of war don’t always retire comfortably. But for a select few, luck was just around the corner. While some were able to kickstart their careers with a hefty donation, others received a hero’s burial. For senior vet Ron Barwick, help was walking along the street — and donating a brand-new recliner.
“I posted something on Facebook, just to some family and friends at like 5 in the morning on Monday, and within an hour, 6:00 we had over a dozen people that had stood up and responded to the needs of a fellow man,” said Officer [Jordan] Gaiche.
In a speedy 36 hours, Gaiche had raised enough money to purchase Barwick a new motorized recliner. For the Vietnam warhorse, it was a treat, as back problems made beds a lingering nightmare.
“I think the real heroes are a man that served his country, a neighbor, I think that neighbor’s a hero. And 21 people that gave money I think they’re the heroes in this,” said Officer Gaiche.
Some may look more like heroes than others — but the job is totally up for grabs, no matter who you are.
In a controversial era for law enforcement, not every cop has been a bad egg. Among them is the police force of El Segundo, who helped raise funds for a robbed teen. Latest to join the club is Indiana cop Richard Mayer, who spent his first lunch as a cop saving a toddler.
“I looked over and she started gagging. I could see something kind of in the back of her throat, mistakenly reached in to try to grab it out, I think that pushed it back into her throat,” Hasse recalled.
The heroic cop was lunching with colleagues at Chick-fil-A when the frenzied mother approached their table. Hasse then performed back slaps on the child and dislodged the apple chunk almost immediately.
“This is what he was meant to do,” Hasse said. “To save lives in some kind of way.”
Talk about first-day jitters! Luckily, all Hasse’s efforts paid off.