)It’s every 9-year-old kid’s nightmare: nobody showing up to their birthday party. For Thomas Daniel, from Grand Rapids, Michigan, his ninth birthday nightmare started the second he left his family’s apartment.
Thomas was running a little late for school. The conscientious 9-year-old ran to catch up with his departing school bus but was seconds too late. Unbeknownst to Thomas, however, a squad car was parked nearby, and the officers on duty had a bright idea: they would offer the kid a lift to school.
Officer Austin Lynema of the Grand Rapids Police Department quizzed the troubled student. Did he need help? Thomas responded by informing the officer that his mom didn’t have a car and couldn’t drive him to school.
“I saw Thomas running down a sidewalk, trying to chase his bus,” Officer Lynema shared with MLive. “I tried to stop the school bus for him, but the bus didn’t stop for myself or Thomas.” Officer Lynema needed no more convincing. He quickly received permission from Thomas’s mom to drive her son to school in the squad car.
“We showed up to his elementary school, all lights out, and he was all smiles for that,” Officer Lynema continued. “Imagine how cool he was rolling up to school in the GRPD cruiser!” commented Fox 17 newsreaders, who later covered the touching story.
Thomas, grateful for the ride, shared with Officer Lynema that it was his ninth birthday that very day. He also opened up about being bullied at school, and invited the kindly officer to join his birthday party before revealing a heartbreaking admission: he was afraid that nobody else would show up.
Officer Lynema promised to stop by for the celebrations.
We want to introduce you to a special birthday boy, 9 year old Thomas Daniel! Recently, Ofc. Lynema saw a little boy…
Later that day and true to his word, Officer Lynema showed up to find that Thomas’s nightmare was coming true. The only party guests were the birthday boy’s siblings. His classmates had chosen not to come, and there wasn’t even a birthday cake. “Noone was at my birthday party because everybody had to go somewhere … to their friends’ houses and play,” Thomas told MLive. “So Austin decided to being his friends along and then celebrated my birthday.”
Officer Lynema cooked up a plan and returned the next day, but this time, he had backup. The “followup party” was exactly the remedy Thomas needed to end his birthday nightmare.
Celebrations included personalized Crispy Creme donuts, a GRPD goodie bag, and the chance for a very excited Thomas to explore the squad car. Thomas himself was rather taken with the party food. “I still love the donuts,” he shared, humorously, “because cops, they need donuts in the morning!”
Thomas and Officer Lynema’s unlikely friendship has been covered by numerous news channels and shared thousands on times on social media. It’s pretty safe to say that Thomas’s ninth birthday went from the worst to the best birthday ever, thanks to one Grand Rapids police officer’s kindhearted gesture.
After a little boy's birthday didn't start off as planned, a Grand Rapids Police Department officer saved the day! Officer Austin Lynema joins us to talk about his new friendship with 9 year-old Thomas.
Posted by Nicole DiDonato Fox 17 on Wednesday, April 3, 2019
“The job gets tough, but when you meet people like Thomas it reminds you of why you do what you do,” Officer Lynema shared with the Fox 17 crew. And the feeling’s mutual. “Austin? He never lets kids down,” Thomas shared, emphatically. “He’s a hero.”
Thomas has made a friend for life, and even intimated that he wants to become a Grand Rapids police officer himself when he grows up. “I never let other kids go down,” the empowered 9-year-old shared. “I never let other kids get bullied.”
“I’m a hero, just like Austin.”