It’s a police officer’s duty to stand between danger and the people whom they are sworn to protect. We all know that facing such dangers sometimes entails making the ultimate sacrifice.
Like countless other officers, 27-year-old Palm Springs, California, police officer Lesley Zerebny responded to a domestic violence call and lost her life in the line of duty.
What made this even sadder was that just days earlier, Zerebny had just returned to active duty from maternity leave.
However, the community found a way to offer her family at least some comfort in the form of a gesture: by donating 500 ounces (approx. 15 liters) of breastmilk to their newborn baby girl Cora.
When Zerebny and fellow officer Jose Gilbert “Gill” Vega responded to the reported “family disturbance,” the suspect, who had a criminal record, shot both officers dead with an assault rifle. Six other officers were also injured in the attack. The gunman was later taken into custody.
Now, officer Zerebny is survived by her daughter Cora (who was 4 months old at the time) and her husband, now a single dad, who is a Sheriff’s Deputy.
Afterward, one of Zerebny’s family members asked for prayers via a social media post, and almost immediately one woman responded and wanted to know if a donation of breastmilk to the family would help. The family accepted the donation, and hardly 24 hours passed when 500 ounces of breastmilk was delivered to their home in coolers.
KTVU reporter Claudia Wong, who covered the story on her own Facebook page, stated on a post:
A friend sent me these pictures today of coolers filled with donated breast milk and told me about a remarkable effort that has taken place over the last couple of days for Palm Springs Officer Lesley Zerebny’s baby, 4 month old Cora.
It’s something only mothers can do for Officer Zerebny.
The milk still had to be screened and tested, but it would be enough to feed Cora for over a month.
Yet, it’s the goodwill that made the gesture so meaningful.
“[T]his is not about breast milk or formula, it’s about the human heart and about the desire and the capacity of people to give,” Wong shared. “Two officers lost their lives on Saturday … responding to a call. Officer Zerebny and Veteran officer Jose Vega. Today in Monterey moms also responded to a call for help.”
After the incredible gesture of respect from the community, though greatly appreciated, it was requested that would-be donors should send Enfamil reguline formula to the department instead of breastmilk.
“It is amazing what people do when they find out there is a need and find out that they can help,” Wong added.