A young boy stricken with cancer has achieved his lifelong dream of becoming a police officer, cleaning up the streets in upstate New York.
Colin Hayward Toland, 9, became Ithaca's newest honorary police officer last week, a major milestone for a brave boy who has had to deal with many setbacks in his short life.
Colin was celebrating his second birthday in 2009 when he collapsed. He underwent emergency surgery, where doctors found Ependymoma, a brain tumor that affects the brain and spinal cord.
"We thought he was only hanging on to life," said Ian Hayward, Colin’s father.
The toddler underwent treatments of high dose chemotherapy and radiation for about a year. In 2010, after his third brain surgery, Colin has miraculously recovered, finding the strength to eat and speak again.
"It’s amazing that he graduated from kindergarten at the appropriate age" said Tamiko Toland, his mother.
Despite the encouraging news, Colin's cancer returned in 2015. After six brain surgeries, Colin’s parents have been worried about his quality of life.
"We’re just pursuing to make his life more satisfying. We don’t think about it” said Colin's parents.
And it came with great satisfaction that Colin met Ithaca police chief John Barber at a community event to talk about his dreams, and among them was becoming a police officer.
Barber felt inspired by the boy, and made arrangements for him to become an honorary officer in his department.
“After everything, he’s willing to help others and if that doesn’t inspire you, I don’t know what does,” Barber said.
Colin is proudly answering phones at the department, and taking his duties very seriously.
"I was really realy happy, even though I have a brain tumor," Colin proclaimed. "I'm very happy to be here."