Seven-year-old Daniel Nicastro’s eighth birthday was approaching in North Port, Fla. And as they had done prior to his previous birthdays, Daniel’s parents sent out RSVPs to kids they hoped would attend his party. But Daniel suffers from autism, and like his past parties, no one acknowledged the invitations or even bothered to send best wishes.
His parents, not wanting to again witness Daniel’s despair, decided to take the huge step of reaching out to the North Port Police Department. They personally delivered invitations to officers in the hope they might attend young Daniel’s upcoming birthday party.
The officers made no promises; so who knew what to expect?
Finally, little Daniel’s big day arrived. As usual, none of his invited friends bothered to show up. How many more birthdays would come and go the same way? Then came a loud noise from out on the street. Daniel ran to the window to investigate, spotting a long line of North Port police cruisers pulling up to his house. These were the cars containing his honored birthday guests. And they were dressed for the occasion in sharply worn uniforms, with gifts in tow.
Why did the officers show up for the party?
Not for the publicity of course, but just to make Daniel’s day and to let him know that he was special. And things just haven’t been the same for Daniel since.
After the incident went viral on social media, he received birthday cards from kids as far away as Hawaii. In addition, local parents contacted Daniel’s mom and dad to arrange get-togethers for their kids with him. Then to top things off, North Port decided to hold a big birthday bash in Daniel’s honor, to include any other kids similarly slighted on their own special days.
And to think none of this would have been remotely possible without the top-notch efforts of the North Port, Florida P.D.
Stories such as this you can’t make up. Still, there are those who have dedicated themselves to promoting hatred of law enforcement officers everywhere; using violence in extreme cases to symbolize their points of view. But just as in North Port, Florida, the overwhelming number of those who wear the badge are good and decent individuals who commonly engage in similar feel-good acts that rarely get reported.
Daniel Nicastro will always hold dear his special birthday and the officers who made it so. Even before his once in a lifetime celebration with all the trappings, Daniel counted police officers as his superheroes. And although they don’t wear capes, the men and women who risk their lives daily for all of us can be our superheroes, too.
Mark Figley is a political activist and guest columnist from Elida. Reach him a [email protected]