Carmine, who is five years old, started kindergarten this year. He also has autism, which made his first day that much more special – and a little scary.
That’s why his father, police officer Andy Matteline for the City of Woodson Terrace in Missouri, left his hospital bed and his cancer treatment, to walk his boy to school on his first day.
Carmine’s autism means he has problems with communication, social skills and behavior. Andy and his wife Mary worked with Carmine the months before the start of school to get him ready for his new routine and environment. And like any doting dad, Andy wanted to be there to send Carmine off.
Then, a terrible thing happened. Andy had to undergo surgery for esophageal and stomach cancer, which made his plan to walk Andy to school seem impossible.
But Andy would not be deterred. He convinced his doctors to let him leave the Saint Louis University Hospital to be with Carmine on his first day.
What he didn’t know was that officers from his department had made plans to step in on his behalf and escort the boy themselves. Officers from the City of Woodson Terrace, plus nine other areas, including St. John, Bel-Bor, Breckenridge Hills, Chesterfield, Maryland Heights, Warson Woods, Normandy, Webster Groves, and St. Louis County, plus deputies from the Lincoln Country Sheriff’s Office joined the walk too.
That’s a big turnout!
All gathered were surprised to see Andy arrive that morning with his nurses and his brother-in-law (who is a physician) in tow. Andy, who wasn’t expecting the gesture from his brothers in blue, was overwhelmed by their love and support.
And Carmine, who was reaching an important milestone while also dealing with his daddy’s illness, got to walk to Kehrs Mills Elementary school in his own little parade.
Upon arriving at Carmine’s school, loving hugs and words were shared. Then, it was time for everyone to start their day.
It was also time for Andy to return to the hospital to continue his fight for his health and his family.