By Eric D. Lawrence
Detroit Free Press
DETROIT — Nine-year-old Jayvon Felton arrived for work today at the Detroit Public Safety Headquarters by helicopter.
When the boy landed, Detroit Police Chief James Craig and an entourage of police officers were there to greet him before Craig made Jayvon chief for the day, fulfilling a dream for a child battling cancer.
Jayvon smiled as he was surrounded by friends, officers and members of the news media and then reunited with his fourth-grade classmates at Roberto Clemente Academy in Detroit, whom he had not seen since he was diagnosed with acute lymphoblastic leukemia, a cancer of the blood, in April.
"I can only imagine the strength and courage it takes for this young man, police chief, to fight this illness every day," Craig said during a news conference, where Jayvon took the oath of office. "Chief Jayvon, are you up for the challenge. Are you ready to run this great police department?"
Jayvon said that he was, and then he thanked everyone for coming. When asked what the city looked like during the helicopter ride from Coleman A. Young International Airport, Jayvon said the city looks small. Along the way, the pilot had flown him over Belle Isle, the Ambassador Bridge and Comerica Park. Officials said Jayvon's day was made possible through donations from corporate and nonprofit groups.
After the oath, Jayvon prepared for the rest of his day, which included a pizza party.
The smiles and cheers that followed Jayvon and his family through the headquarters building offered a break from the struggles of the past nine months.
Jayvon's mother, Amanda Clinkscales, said that Jayvon's prognosis is good, and she expects him to return to school next year. But it has still been tough, even within the past couple of weeks.
"We (were) crying together because he said he just wants to be a regular boy again. And I said, 'Oh no, you are a regular boy. What you have is not your fault. We're going to get through it because God said so, and you'll be just fine, and I love you,' " Clinkscales said.
Jayvon's cancer was discovered April 16. The boy had been sick for a couple days, but his mother did not know how sick he was until Jayvon told her he could not get out of bed. They went to Oakwood Hospital and Medical Center in Dearborn, where the boy was first diagnosed, and then for a second diagnosis, which confirmed the first, at Children's Hospital of Michigan.
Craig noted the strength of Jayvon's mother as she battles on behalf of her son but said today was a day of celebration, not of sadness, for Chief Jayvon.
"It is with this fortitude and courage that humbles even the most hardened police officers and reminds us of why we do what we do every day and how important every precious moment is," Craig said.
McClatchy-Tribune News Service
Copyright 2014 Detroit Free Press