Sunday, February 23, 2014

Police Escort and Logan's 12th Birthday Party

In the past… birthdays for Logan have been painfully quiet and uneventful as the years have slipped by.  All that was about to change after I gave readers a glimpse into my life through a Facebook post- where I expressed the tearful anguish with which I have faced my severely autistic son Logan’s birthday each year.  This day has always been a challenge for me since Logan is unable to speak and has a severe cognitive developmental delay that robs him of the ability to engage with his peers in the reciprocal kind of way that creates lasting friendships. 

In this same Facebook post I asked readers to join in my plan for doing something to honor my son’s big day with me by sending simple notes in the mail to wish him a happy birthday.  This was going to be my way of marking this day for what it should be – an important day for a special child.  I assumed that I would get a few cards and notes from a few of my Facebook friends and perhaps from a few others with whom my post might be shared.  I expected maybe 20-30 cards in total.

This was not so.  My post was shared across Facebook, making its way across pages and groups across continents.  I started to realize that something big was happening when I began to see the comments to my post, numbering into the hundreds within the first few days.  People expressed birthday wishes, and words of encouragement to let my family know that we were not alone – there are many others who have severely autistic children of their own and know what it is like to feel robbed of the special privilege of celebrating a birthday the ‘normal’ way.

Then the mail began to pour in.  It started with a notice left in my mailbox telling me that my mail was in the front office of our apartment complex because there was “too much mail” and it would not fit into my mailbox.  This became a daily routine, going to the front office to get Logan’s mail.  The NATIONS had answered – simple cards of heartfelt birthday wishes from all over my home country here in the USA but also from countries across the world.  There have been some very unique things that have come in the mail as well – a full sized flag from Australia, a team picture from the New England Patriots football team, an ‘autographed’ picture of Elmo from the makers of Sesame Street, bundles of cards from schools, girl scout troops, churches, emergency first responders and more.  There have also been some very personal notes as well.  An elderly man with a shaky pen stroke wrote to wish Logan a happy birthday and pledged to continue to do this every year as long as he his “humanly able.”  Dozens of notes have come from other parents of special needs children sharing their love, understanding and support.

Then came a big surprise from right here in Massachusetts - we were invited to a lunch by a Court Officer from the town of Brockton named Pamela who came across the Facebook post.  With the help of at least TEN other local police departments, she invited us out for a burger to celebrate Logan.  Remember, this just started with a request for a few birthday cards.  The day for this celebration arrived on Saturday, February 22.  This was no ordinary lunch date.  Pamela arrived at our apartment with police officers around lunch time.  My son gave Cambridge Police Officer Stephen a bit hug as soon as he walked into our apartment.  My husband, Logan, two younger children and I were escorted from our apartment door to our car. The officers never left our side!  We were not really sure what was going on as news cameras appeared and police cruisers gathered in our normally calm and quiet apartment complex.  Before we knew what was happening, we were driving to our lunch celebration with six police cars escorting us, three in front and three behind, with lights flashing and sirens blaring, sailing through traffic lights and passing every car that had pulled over to make way for the procession.    

During our trip to the lunch celebration I couldn’t stop thinking about how amazing it was – as we had gotten into our car, it seemed each way I turned my head I saw a person in uniform, a PD cruiser or heard some talk of "Logan" on a nearby police radio.  I think we were told several times to follow the Andover Police Cruisers and then the Cambridge Cruisers would follow us... “Is this really happening?” I thought, “WE are getting a POLICE escort??? US? HOLY COW!  We're off!”  We drove with an ear-to-ear grin as we looked at all of the police cars around us.  WOW!  It was really happening.  I kept stealing glances over at Logan with his wide grin and curious eyes searching for the flashing lights and sirens.   Oncoming cars continued to stop line up and watch as we pass by (They must thought we were famous- or pretty important).  My daughter shouted up to dad, driving, "Dad, you better drive safe, we have lots of police following us today - they could pull you over!"  Then we saw that the police had even set up a traffic cop at the intersection of our lunch destination.  They had stopped all traffic on the busy road so that we could turn in without stopping.  As soon as we arrived, I realized that it was no small lunch!  Media crews were outside along with officers representing a minimun 10 other Police departments!  WOW!  All this for Logan?  I just couldn’t believe they would take time away from their families, time out of their weekend for us.  They had even reserved us a FRONT ENTRANCE parking place!  That alone... just made my YEAR- (if you are ever in eastern Massachusetts you understand what I mean). Oh My Gosh!  

I know these first responders have a tough job.  I know this because they are the ones overseeing my son's tracking/ monitoring device.  Logan is a child who wanders.  The fact that Logan has not been "missing" is a tribute to these men and women wearing blue!  Not only do they protect him when he needs it, but they are pro-active in preventing that situation.  So, it is just fitting that THEY throw HIM a party!  We love Police Officers and Fire Fighters!  They just ROCK!  Look what they do even on their day off of work.  They step out and help us to celebrate OUR son Logan.  The lines of police officers inside this restaurant just floored me!  I had no idea what to expect.  The white gloves, the swat gear, the radios, cords, badges, the brotherhood of so many police departments and fire departments throughout Massachusetts coming together for OUR son.  Logan, the boy often overlooked or quickly dismissed once people find out he is non-verbal and autistic.  They did this for HIM.  They reached out and welcomed us, welcomed HIM into their brotherhood.  The gifts that these officers treasure the most are t-shirts from different police and fire departments.  The badges, t-shirts, police department hats, coins, and mini badge pins- all which are highly coveted among local police crew- were freely handed over to Logan from the different departments!!  He has his own collection now, and we hope to build on his police/fire department collection for many birthdays to come.  As if this were not enough of a blessing, the officer who set this up PAID for my families' meal... close to $70!!!  I know my husband and I work hard for our money- so I KNOW they work hard for theirs... I just CANNOT believe he would pay for this out of his OWN pocket!!!  These men and women in blue really care.  They care even for our family in this small town of Andover, Massachusetts.
As I sit and read through the remaining cards that were sent from around the world- I stop and realize what an impact this is having on my younger two children. They can already see how much my husband and I love and care for Logan.   But NOW they see other people reaching out to the least of these.... to someone who could never do for them what they are doing- What a ripple effect this will have for GENERATIONS!  What an amazing year this will be for our sweet Logan.  THANK YOU!  

If you still want to mail out a card... please do!!!  I will put them all together into a Birthday Card Book for Logan later this summer.  The book will be MUCH larger than initially expected.  You will make our day!
To read more about Logan and watch our home video from inside our car of the police escort and Logan’s reaction: Please visit my Facebook page: Autism Firecracker Mama This page is completely related to information on Logan and his birthday card journey.    

If you would like to mail a card, mail your card to: 
Logan Pearson 
311 Lowell St. #3210 
Andover, MA


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