When 5-year-old boy with autism prepared to go to his first day of kindergarten, he knew that one very special person in his life wouldn’t be with him: his dad. But his father’s brothers and sisters in blue – and the staff at his father’s hospital were working behind the scene to make his day brighter.
Andy Mattaline, a Missouri police officer was diagnosed with esophageal and stomach cancer. He has been hospitalized at Saint Louis University Hospital since August.
As Carmine’s first day of kindergarten approached, Andy wanted to be with his son and walk him to his school. He asked the hospital staff if he could leave for few hours to walk his son to his first day of school on Aug. 12, 2019. When the doctors approved his request, he was overcome with emotion.
“This is one of my biggest days and I didn’t want to miss this,” Andy said. “He means the world to me. We’ve been through a lot together.”
What Andy didn’t know was that more than 20 officers from 10 different departments had already planned to escort Carmine to school in case Andy couldn’t come home.
Andy was surprised by the support of his colleagues.
“We’re friends but we’re family also,” Officer Chris Kaatmann said. “We want to do whatever we can to again make this day special for him and his family.”
With assistance from two nurses and his brother-in-law who is a surgeon at the Saint Louis University Hospital, Andy escorted his son to kindergarten with a procession of Carmine’s “Blue Family Uncles and Aunts.”
“It’s pretty amazing,” Officer Mattaline’s wife Mary said. “It’s so touching to see everyone here and everyone that hears about Andy wants to be there for Carmine.”
The officers gave Andy well wishes before he returned to the hospital.