Children have the gift of seeing complicated situations very clearly. They can also move mountains once they get it in their heads and hearts to do so.
This is the case with Jeremie Bordua of Lansing, Michigan.
A fifth-grader at Lansing’s Mount Hope STEAM School, Bordua decided to forego his own birthday party and throw one for the police instead. To pay for his police party, the boy and his mother, Marcella, began selling homemade cookies last spring.
Bordua raised $10,000 through the sale of some 300 dozen cookies as well as donations he received through a GoFundMe site. His party cost a fraction of that amount, so he pledged the rest to the Lansing Police Athletic League, which pairs officers with at-risk youth for sports activities, as the Lansing State Journal has noted.
Why did he do this? He knows the pain of being harrassed by others. He’s been bullied by others since kindergarten, he told WILX, his town's NBC affiliate. The 10 year-old made the connection between his own struggles and that of the nation’s police officers, most of whom serve the public tirelessly but are increasingly operating in tense conditions after the riots in Baltimore and in Ferguson, Missouri.
In some communities in America, the atmosphere for cops is not just tense but threatening. A group called the National Liberation Militia threatened to harm New York City’s officers last Halloween, prompting the FBI to step in.
"The group has encouraged and discussed tactics which include acts of disturbance and criminal mischief on Halloween Eve and Halloween Day (to draw) a police response followed by an ambush on the First Responders," read an NYPD alert to its officers last Halloween.
"It feels like they get bullied bad like I do," the soft-spoken Bordua told the Lansing State Journal about police officers. "I did this for them." He hopes to wear a police uniform himself one day.
LifeZette spoke to several police officers in different states about the boy’s outreach to the police community.
"That little boy touched the heart of every policeman in the country," Lt. Dan Marcou, retired from the Lacrosse, Wisconsin, police department, told LifeZette. "Whatever it cost to throw the party, the gesture itself was priceless."
"This is just wonderful," said Bill Johnson, executive director of NAPO (National Association of Police Organizations). "This shows outstanding leadership on behalf of this young man, and with over 240,000 police officers that we represent around the country, I’d like to tell Jeremie that there are thousands of officers that he will never meet — but he’s just made their day a bit easier."
A Boston police officer was also moved by Jeremie’s story. "We love reaching out to young people, and we always love to hear stories about young people reaching back," said officer Rachel McGuire. "How special that he understands so much at such a young age. The (Boston Police Department) is thrilled to hear about such a wonderful young man."
About 250 people attended the bash, including about 60 uniformed officers, mostly from around Michigan with a few from other states, including Los Angeles Police Officer Gary Hall who flew across the country.
"After all the news coverage and everything, we start to feel like we’re getting kind of beat down," said Hall to the Journal. Hall took his wife to the ceremony and reception held at Eastern High School's Don Johnson Fieldhouse.
"For a 10-year-old to be this selfless (and give up) his birthday party to thank the police, we both said, ‘You know what, we’re going to jump on a plane and fly out there.'"
A law enforcement official from New England told LifeZette, "In light of what’s going on in the country, it’s really nice to be appreciated — especially by a kid. He hasn’t been twisted by the politics of the times. There’s an innocence to his kind gesture."
Local officials, including Lansing Police Chief Michael Yankowski and Ingham County Sheriff Gene Wriggelsworth, applauded Bordua’s efforts on behalf of the boys in blue. "It's a tough thing to be a police officer," Wriggelsworth said at the ceremony. "This is the proverbial hug we need."
Bordua was also made an honorary Lansing police officer and was given his own uniform, as well as police T-shirts and badges.
Officer McGuire told LifeZette, "We at the Boston Police Department would like to send Jeremie a uniform patch from our station, as well, to celebrate his special birthday."
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