NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) – There was a heartwarming ceremony at 1 Police Plaza Wednesday afternoon.
Officer Merritt Riley’s 16-year-old son Aidan has cerebral palsy.
Today, Aidan was presented with an NYPD costume for his wheelchair. The costume comes complete with flashing lights and siren, Aidan’s name on the side, and his father’s badge number.
“He basically has a police cruiser,” said David Vogel of Magic Wheelchair. The organization makes wheelchair costumes for children and young adults, free of charge. They’ve been working on Aidan’s wheelchair costume since July, with volunteer help from NYPD’s fleet services division.
Web Extra: NYPD Officer’s Son Gets Special Wheelchair
“I’ll say that the full talents of NYPD members have been put to the test these last several months. I’m extremely proud to say that our guys not only met but went far beyond our expectations,” Police Commissioner James O’Neill said. “This was a huge opportunity to everyone involved to do something that’s never been done before. To that end, my hat’s off to the members of the NYPD’s fleet services division.”
Aidan’s face lit up as he switched on the lights and siren for the first time.
“You saw the smile on his face. I can’t put it into words, what it means,” Merritt Riley said. “He loves the simple things in life, things you can’t really put a price tag on. And obviously you can’t put a price tag on something like this. It’s just perfect. It’s perfect for what he enjoys and what he likes.”
A few years ago, Riley and his partner Daniel Sprague created the NYPD With Arms Wide Open foundation, dedicated to helping the families of officers who have children with special needs. The foundation has helped pay for officers to get treatment, special equipment and long term care for their loved ones. He said there’s a “huge need” among officers for a foundation like the one he and Sprague created.
“There are so many cops out there that are in the same boat as I am,” he said. “A lot of times you wind up bringing that stress to work, and it’s not good.”
Riley said he was shocked when Magic Wheelchair contacted him about helping his son.
“I couldn’t believe it. You know, we always try to help people. So when somebody reaches out to help you, it’s not a comfortable feeling, but how do you say no to something like this? It’s not about me or the foundation, it’s about my son,” Riley said.