Something as simple as shopping can mean the world for a child with a developmental disability. The Rockford Police Department held their first Holidays & Heroes event at Meijer in Rockford. It can be compared to their "Shop with a Cop" annual event.
Rockford Police Assistant Deputy Chief Mike Dalke's life changed ever since his daughter Kendell was born. She was diagnosed with Down syndrome. Since that diagnosis Dalke has been determined to make sure his daughter is understood.
Dalke states, "One day we were surprised with the birth of our daughter with Down syndrome and then it was just kind of absorbing as much as I could and learning about it.
Partnering with the Rockford Meijer and GiGi's Playhouse, which is a Down syndrome achievement center. Dalke put together an event to spread holiday cheer for 30 other families from the Rockford area that all have something in common. They are all raising a child with Down syndrome.
Paula Capone, Executive Director GiGi's Playhouse of Rockford, states, "I think our police officers are here for us to protect us to help us and encourage us. So at GiGi's our mission is to inspire and empower individuals with Down syndrome so what a great mix that is."
Rockford Meijer Store Director, Shaun Bonner, adds,"Meijer donated over $3,000 and the Rockford Police Union also donated another $1,500 to help make their Christmas better."
Holidays & Heroes gives children with Down syndrome a chance to do some Christmas shopping while also giving them the chance to make new friends; who just happen to be cops.
The groups join and get a Meijer gift card worth $100 then start checking items off their lists. But this event is much more than just a shopping trip.
"It's educating our community and educating our individuals with down syndrome." Capone says, "They learn who our police officers are how to shop for others and how to budget."
Dalke adds, "It reassure kids with Down syndrome that they can come to police when they need help."
Once the shopping is done the wrapping starts. Ending a busy morning with feelings of satisfaction in their gift giving hearts.
This is just the start of the Rockford Police Departments giving back to their community, next weekend officers do their annual Shop with a Cop event.