Andy Mattaline, a Woodson Terrace policeman in Missouri, was recently diagnosed with oesophageal and stomach cancer and underwent a serious surgery two weeks ago, left the hospital, and had a special surprise for his 5-year-old autistic son on the first day of kindergarten.
The walk to school in a Chesterfield neighborhood on Monday morning was a little different for 5-year-old Carmine Mattaline.
Carmine has autism and needed someone to hold his hand while walking to school. The doting father said he didn’t want to miss taking him to school. Doctors at SSM Health Saint Louis University Hospital saw the importance of this milestone and allowed Mattaline to leave the hospital, according to KMOV-TV.
He was overcome with emotion when was luckily granted leave in his wheelchair for a few hours to attend his son’s first day of school, Fox News reported.
“This is one of the biggest days and I didn’t want to miss this. He means the world to me. We’ve been through a lot together,” Mattaline said.
The surprise got even bigger when Mattaline in his wheelchair arrived at Kehrs Mills Elementary School in the Rockwood School District, he was greeted by his wife, Mary, their 3-year-old daughter Evelyn, and a squad of fellow officers in uniform who volunteered to be there for Carmine when they thought the father couldn’t be there.
“It’s an overwhelming amount support that I just can’t process right now. I just love the support … I can’t thank anybody enough,” Mattaline said.
More than 20 police officers from nine other police departments — St. John, Bel-Bor, Breckenridge Hills, Chesterfield, Maryland Heights, Warson Woods, Normandy, Webster Groves and St. Louis County—and deputies from the Lincoln County Sheriff’s Office showed up for the special moment.
“We’re friends but we’re family also. We want to do whatever we can to again make this day special for him and his family,” Officer Chris Kaatman told FOX 2.
“It’s pretty amazing. It’s so touching to see everyone here and everyone that hears about Andy wants to be there for Carmine,” Mary Matteline said while fighting back tears.
Carmine Mattaline, surrounded by love and support, made it to school on time.
“I just can’t wait to release him into the world,” Andy Mattaline said.
“To his first step to transition into becoming something we all want to see him flourish into,” he added
Because Carmine has autism, his parents said that they spent countless hours guiding him and preparing him so like any other 5-year-old boy he could interact with other children before the big day—one of the key reasons Andy wanted to see him off.