A Castalian Springs teenager with autism who wanted to share a soda with a police officer was instead surprised by more than a dozen local and state law enforcement officers for lunch last week.
Officers from the Sumner County Sheriff’s Office, Gallatin and Hendersonville police departments and the Tennessee Highway Patrol had lunch with 13-year-old Bricen Henderson at the McDonald’s on West Main Street in Gallatin on Jan. 29.
The meeting was a “dream come true” for the Tennessee School for the Blind eighth grader who earns tokens each week for making good decisions that can be redeemed for different rewards like visiting with a police officer, according to his grandmother Cheryl Sague.
“He just has always had a love and respect for the police department,” Sague said. “He was so excited that they were doing this, especially when I told him there was going to be more than one (officer). This is something that he will always remember.”
It took Henderson more than three weeks to save up enough tokens for the reward.
That’s when Sague turned to the Keep Castalian Springs Beautiful Facebook group for help arranging a meeting with her grandson and an officer to grab a drink at a place like McDonald’s.
The request got the attention of Sumner County Sheriff’s Deputy Chris Vines who responded almost immediately.
“I have a heart for kids, so when I saw a kid wanted a reward with a police officer, this is what I had to do,” said Vines who serves as the school resource officer at Benny Bills Elementary School in Gallatin. “I thought that instead of having lunch with a police officer, why not have lunch with all of my buddies from multiple agencies all across the county?
“We just want to hang out with him and just spend time with one of our kids who lives in our community.”
In addition to having lunch with the teen, officers from the different law enforcement agencies also presented Henderson with hats and various other items from each department. He was also named an honorary police officer or chief for the day and invited to tour each department with his family.
“We try to give him as much as we can, but I could have never done something like this,” Sague said. “I was just overwhelmed by it, so happy for him and so appreciative. It just shows what a strong community we have.”