A police officer battling cancer was overcome with emotion as he walked his son to his first day of school along with a team of fellow colleagues.
Andy Mattaline, a Woodson Terrace policeman in Missouri, US, was recently diagnosed with oesophageal and stomach cancer and is still recovering from surgery at Saint Louis University Hospital, Fox News reported.
The doting father said he didn’t want to miss taking his five-year-old son, Carmine, who has autism, to school and was luckily granted leave for a few hours to attend the special day.
He told Fox2 : “This is one of my biggest day and I just didn’t want to miss that.
“He means the world to me. We’ve been through a lot together.”
When Andy arrived at Kehrs Mills Elementary School in the Rockwood School District, he was welcomed by a team of police officers who came to escort him and walk his son to school.
More than 20 police officers from at least 10 departments gave Andy hugs and handshakes in support of him.
Andy’s wife, Mary, and their 3-year-old daughter Evelyn also welcomed him on the special occasion.
“I just love the support. … I can’t thank anybody enough,” said Andy.
Officer Chris Kaatman said: “We’re friends but we’re family also. We want to do whatever we can to again make this day special for him and his family.”
Mary, who had been preparing Carmine to cope with his autism for the first day of school, said: “It’s pretty amazing. It’s so touching to see everyone here and everyone that hears about Andy wants to be there for Carmine.”
Andy was touched to see his colleagues and thanked them for being there to support him in an event that he was too sick to make himself.
He said: “I just can’t wait to release him (Carmine) into the world.
“To his first step to transition into becoming something we all want to see him flourish into.”