Evan Moore, 12, clutched onto a stuffed toy animal during a special tour of the Ceres Police Department headquarters on Monday afternoon.
The 12-year-old Ceres boy, who for seven year has been battling a rare medical disorder known as Pediatric Autoimmune Neuropsychiatric Disorders (PANDAS), was given the rare privilege of being an "Officer for the Day." Stuffed animals have been a source of comfort through the difficult medical process and isolation from others to prevent infections.
Evan's mother, Susan Moore, called a few weeks ago saying Evan wanted to come down and thank officers for their service. When the department learned of his lengthy illness, officials wanted to "take a little bit more extra effort and make Evan Moore officer for the day," said Sgt. Jason Coley.
Monday's visit to the Ceres Police Department included a "swearing in" by Ceres Police Chief Brent Smith, followed by the presentation of a plaque to commemorate the event. Sgt. Coley handed Evan official patches of various crime units. He was then led on a tour of the Third Street station, including dispatch and detectives and was allowed to sit in a patrol car and use the radio. He was also given a tour of the SWAT truck and seeing an attack demonstration of police canine Dex with Officer Coey Henson.
Susan said Evan was really excited about the visit. He has to be away from others most of his day because his immune system is compromised. He attends Blaker Kinser Junior High School only about 40 minutes a day but is primarily on home instruction in addition to speech therapy at home.
The illness, which affects one in 2,000 children, started when Evan developed rheumatic fever at five years old.
"We started noticing changes and he just could not get well," said his mother Susan Moore. "And then they took his tonsils out and it got worse, actually. He got rashes and he was misdiagnosed a lot by our doctors here because they're just not familiar with PANS."
In fact, while Evan has had the disease for years, it wasn't until January that a diagnosis was made.
Doctors also learned his condition was complicated by Klinefelter's syndrome, a rare genetic disorder that affects male physical and cognitive development. Children with Klinefelter syndrome often have learning disabilities and delayed speech and language development. They tend to be quiet, sensitive and unassertive.
A clinic at Stanford University diagnosed him and began treatments at home.
"They come out and infuse him and give him antibiotics from thousands and thousands of donors to try to clean out his system and hopefully it will boost his immune system. He's going to get better eventually. It's going to take more treatment. The nurse said it could take up to two more years."
The department gave Evan a bag of stuffed toy animals leftover from the Christmas toy drive to be delivered to children in the hospitals in Stanford and at Madera.
Whether the visit actually spurs Evan to one day become an officer, nobody knows. But he's not likely to forget the visit anytime soon, his mother said.