GRAND RAPIDS, Mich (WOTV) – Just hours before Skylar Sturdevant’s big moment Tuesday night, the smile said it all: The 4-year-old was beaming with excitement.
“I just want to be a police officer,” Skylar told 24 Hour News 8.
Her love for law enforcement started about a year a half ago.
“We were at a gas station getting gas and a police officer pulled up next to us,” Brandi Sturdevant, Skylar’s mom, recalled.
She said Skylar was scared at first — until she got to meet the officer.
“He explained to her, ‘Listen, we’re not the bad guys. We’re here to help you.’ And ever since then, Skylar has just been head over heels,” Sturdevant said.
It’s almost all Skylar talks about. She wants to be a police officer now and a firefighter when she grows up. Last Halloween, she dressed up to protect and serve.
Then, just last week, there was a chance encounter with three of her heroes — three Covert Township police officers — at a South Haven restaurant.
“When we got up to get our food, she saw them. She’s waving to them and she’s just cheesing so big and she’s so happy and she’s like, ‘I want to talk to them,’” Sturdevant recalled.
Skylar did talk to them, and the officers made her day. They paid for her meal and even gave her a stuffed animal.
“We saw that she just kept staring at us, so after mom approached us, we’re like, ‘Well, let’s do something nice for her,'” Chief Jay Allen told 24 Hour News 8 Tuesday.
Sturdevant snapped a photo of the moment. Pictured right beside Skylar was her favorite officer, Allen. The image spread fast on Facebook — nearly 150 shares in short order.
But more importantly, it became a bright day for a little girl who’s had too many dark ones. Two years ago, Skylar started suffering from frequent episodes of high fever, vomiting and body pain.
“At that moment, I knew there was something wrong with Skylar,” Sturdevant said.
Just this year, doctors diagnosed her with Periodic Fever Syndrome — specifically, PFAPA. Sturdevant said it’s not life-threatening if treated properly, and could improve — but it’s something Skylar will have to live with forever.
Somehow, through it all, Skylar has kept on smiling.
“My daughter is going to face things in life and she’s going to get through everything because she is so strong,” Sturdevant said.
Tuesday, Skylar spent the afternoon getting pampered at HQ Salon and Spa in Portage, preparing for her biggest moment yet.
Tuesday evening at the Covert Township Board meeting, the police department named her an honorary police officer — badge and all.
“It makes me feel so humbled and feel like people are selfless. They’re amazing people,” Sturdevant said of the officers, tearing up.
“(She) should be inspiring not just to children but to all of us. To see that somebody this young just battles through and goes forward — and that’s the main reason why we’re honoring her, is for her courage,” Chief Allen said.
“(She is) definitely the youngest member of the department,” he joked.