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Terminally ill second-grader fulfills dream with police car ride

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(Chris Detrick | The Salt Lake Tribune) Fellow students hold signs and cheer for Brandon Royo, 9, at Whittier Elementary in West Valley City Tuesday March 26, 2013. Royo, a second grade student at Whittier Elementary, is dying from medulloblastoma, a form of brain cancer.

By Jake Gordon

The Salt Lake Tribune

First published Apr 04 2013 03:02PM
Updated Apr 8, 2013 05:08PM

West Valley City • Brandon Flores-Royo will never get to pursue his dream of being a police officer.

But recently, the second-grader with terminal cancer was able to pretend for a little while.

He rode from the hospital to Whittier Elementary in a Granite School District Police cruiser. When he arrived at his school, he was greeted by fellow students and teachers.

Cheers of, "Let’s go Brandon!" echoed from nearly the entire student body at Whittier as two police cars carrying Brandon and his family slowly paraded in front of the school.

The idea of letting Brandon ride in a police car came from his first grade teacher Kathy O’Toole.

"He always wanted to be a police officer, so I thought it would be a great idea," O’Toole said. "Brandon is the sweetest child in the world, and all the kids love him."

O’Toole got the ball rolling and Granite School District was more than willing to help with the request.

Brandon was inspired to be a police officer from his uncle Michael Royo, who is in training to work in law enforcement. Brandon was even wearing a past Halloween costume during his ride in the police car.

The original plan at Whittier was to have the first- and second-grade classes out to greet Brandon as he came back to school, but soon the whole school got involved in the event.

"We have a very supportive community here at Whittier," said principal Lynette Golze. "We didn’t want to deprive any of the students the chance to celebrate Brandon. It is just a precious experience to support one of the kids that we love."

Allison St. Louis, who is the current second grade teacher for Brandon, knows how much the kids at school love Brandon.

"My kids really needed this because they haven’t seen him for a while," St. Louis said. "Brandon loves school, and he wants to be there and he has the motivation."

St. Louis also said that even when Brandon was starting to feel sick, he didn’t want to mention it so that he could keep coming to school.

Even with doctors estimating Brandon’s life expectancy to be anywhere between two weeks or two months, Brandon’s family is staying positive and refusing to relinquish belief in miracles.

"We don’t lose faith, even though doctors tell him he only has a few days to live," Brandon’s uncle Michael Royo said. "We are very supportive and we are very thankful for all the support."

Brandon’s stepfather Luis Reyes is also not losing hope for a miracle.

"Faith is strong, and with it you can do the incredible," Reyes said.

closeup@sltrib.com

Twitter: @sltribSouth

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