SACRAMENTO (CBS13) – Police agencies across the country, including our own in Sacramento, are sending packets of love to one little boy in Minnesota.
Robert Romero Martinez is just six-years-old. He suffers from a rare disorder known as DiGeorge syndrome, or 22Q. He’s always wanted to be a police officer – and now with the help of Facebook, hundreds of officers are stepping up to help him reach his dreams.
Robert’s toothless smile and love for law enforcement has caught the attention of police agencies coast to coast.
“Police officers are his heroes,” said Robert’s mother Trista.
Robert was born with 22q11.2 Deletion syndrome, a disorder caused by a small missing piece of the 22nd chromosome that can affect every system in the human body. Robert’s mother says its believed be the second most-common genetic disorder behind Down’s Syndrome, yet most have never heard of it.
“For him it affects his brain, his muscles, neuro system, lungs, immune system, everything,” said Trista.
Robert’s mother spoke to CBS13 via Skype from their home in Minnesota. She says her son has always been fascinated with police cars, and has quite the collection. She adds that while his dream is to become an officer, she knows his condition may not allow that to happen. So her and her husband Oscar started a Facebook page “Police Patches for Robert” to help him collect as many police patches from around the world as he can.
And the response has been overwhelming.
“We were surprised to see so many officers respond. Every week he’s receiving packages. He gets really excited and can’t wait to rip through them,” said Trista.
Patch after patch has rolled in from as far away as Canada, even coins, teddy bears , letters even a video from a station in South Florida.
“Robert next time you’re in South Florida, let us know and we’ll give you a tour of the police department,” said one officer in the video.
Robert’s mission has also touched hearts in Sacramento. Jenna Swafford with the Sacramento Police department says as soon as she saw Robert’s Facebook page, she wanted to help. So she started putting together a package.
“I sent him our patch, and our breast cancer awareness patch. It makes me happy, it makes all of us happy that we brought a little smile on his face,” said Swafford. “To see all these officers responding, that’s just who we are. We enter this field because we care about people, we care about our communities,” she said.
And although these officers may not have met Robert face-to-face they hope to keep his dream alive.
“When Robert thinks about Sacramento, if he ever hears about Sacramento again we want this to be what he remembers and this to be what he remembers about law enforcement as a whole,” said Swafford.
And while he’s limited in his speech, that toothless smile is Robert’s way of saying thanks.
“We want to say thank you. Thank you for thinking of him and making this cute little guy happy,” said Trista.
The Roseville Police Department also sent Robert patches and since his story has spread, Robert has had a chance to tour a number of stations and has dozens of more agencies to contact.