Every year police departments from around the area pick a child who has a chronic medical condition to be their Chief for a Day. The Black Diamond Police Department picked Jack Reich and an officer in particular has adopted Jack and his family into his own.
The Chief for a Day program, which was celebrated Aug. 16, is a chance for kids who have a life threatening or chronic medical condition to be able to enjoy life without having to think about the their illness.
Sgt. Brian Lynch met Jack and his family back in April. Brian admitted he wasn’t sure if he even wanted meet Jack to begin with though.
“When I met him, I didn’t really want to meet him because the week prior we had gone through a funeral for Hunter Coffman, who was our Chief for a Day two years ago, and since I’ve been involved with Chief for a Day, he was our second one that has passed away. So when that happens, I had no interest in taking part in this anymore,” Brian said.
But when he met Jack, there was no going back.
Jack was diagnosed with acute lymphoblastic leukemia in September 2017, according to his mom, Sarah Stephenson. She said it’s the most common childhood cancer.
According to Brian, he and his family have spent all summer with Jack and his family doing all sorts of family fun summer activities.
“He’s become kind of part of my family over this past few months. Him and his mom have been coming out every Friday to Lake Sammamish with my family and playing on the boat and pulling him in the inner tube with my kids, so he’s been pretty much adopted into our family this summer,” Brian said. “His mom and dad are incredible people. What I love about it is they have not stopped living. When we call and invite them to do something, it’s always, ‘Yes, we’ll do it.’”
On top of having fun with Brian and his family, Jack has also had the opportunity to participate in Black Diamond events that took place over the summer.
For example, Brian said he was able to ride around on the police boat with him during the July Boat Parade on Lake Sawyer.
While Jack got the chance to do all sorts of fun activities, he also had to keep up with is chemo treatments. Brian and his family took the time to go with him to one of his more major appointments.
“(We) went to his big appointment at Children’s Hospital where they did a spinal tap for him and gave him a pretty super-sized dose of chemo radiation into his spine. So we got to be there with him for that and actually see where he goes for his treatments,” Brian said. “I tell ya, it wasn’t my favorite thing to do, but in the end it was pretty fulfilling to be there with him and to actually support him. When he woke up he wanted to know where my kids were so they were the first ones to give him a hug.”
Brian has also done another extraordinary thing for Jack and his family. He has raised over $7,000 for Jack’s family through his nonprofit, Boots and Badges, said Larry Colagiovanni, commander for the Black Diamond Police Department.
Larry said this money is to go towards whatever the family needs or wants, like vacations, medical treatments, anything.
Sarah said it’s hard to put into words what this all means to Jack.
“Jack really struggled with being lonely, he’s an only child and when we asked him at the end of the day, ‘What was your favorite part of the day?’ For him to say, ‘everything was awesome,’ that’s the first day since diagnoses that Jack has said that the whole entire part of this day was good,” she said.
Brian said the Chief for a Day program can give these kids a new outlook on life.
“Going to Children’s Hospital last week with Jack and sitting there in the waiting room, waiting for his name to be called, and I’m surrounded by kids that have no hair. Or that look sick and they’re just trying to keep a smile on their face and to know that Jack was in that hospital day after day for a while… This program gives them a time out for that,” Brian explained. “It makes them know that there’s better things out there for them that’s not all just centered around in that waiting room, waiting to get their name called to go back to get chemo. It actually gives them something to look forward. In my opinion, I think it gives them something to focus on other than what’s going on in their bodies.”
His mom said a lot of issues she and her family deal with on a daily basis are the mental aspects that comes with being diagnosed, which is why the Chief for a Day program has been so great for Jack and his family.
According to Brian, he had “adopted” Jack and his family into his own and said they will be friends with them for years to come.
He also stated that this program is the best thing that he does as a police officer.
“It’s one of those things where when I got started in law enforcement, just like everybody else you want to make a difference and there’s days where I don’t feel like I make a difference at all, but this event is the thing that keeps me going,” he said.