For adults, birthdays might not seem like a big deal, but when you remember your time as a child, it was one of those days you circled on the calendar months in advance. One boy (who was not named) was attending school on his eighth birthday, but he didn’t have many people to celebrate with. In fact, both of his parents had to miss his birthday as they were incarcerated, and there wasn’t anyone to pick him up from school.
The boy’s mother was his emergency contact, and there were no others listed. With that, the school in Green Bay, Wisconsin called the local police department, and Officer Darryl Robinson was the one to arrive to give the boy a ride. Robinson said that he had met the boy before when he was responding to a call, and learned that it was indeed his eighth birthday.
Robinson called up the boy’s grandfather asked if he could do something special before bringing the child home, opting to take the boy to dinner. The child didn’t want anything fancy, settling for a trip to McDonald’s, and even the ride there was fun for the birthday boy. “We brought (him) out to a squad, he’d never been in a police car before and was very excited to ride in one.”
When they got to McDonald’s, Robinson was pleased to see how happy the boy was despite not getting an extravagant birthday party. “He was looking at the toys they put in the Happy Meals,” Robinson said. “He was excited to hang out with a police officer and get away for a little bit.” He also received some trading cards of his favorite team, the Green Bay Packers, as well as some temporary tattoos.
The Green Bay Police Department was aware of what Robinson was doing, and took to social media to share the story while they were still eating dinner. The story started to go viral in Wisconsin with hundreds of comments, many of which were thanking Robinson for his good deed. Robinson had no idea that he was receiving all of this praise until later on.
“I’m not one for the spotlight, but you know, it was good seeing all the comments and there was nothing negative that I read,” he said. “That’s pretty rare in this profession.” He hopes that other officers get exposure for similar acts of kindness, saying “I think it doesn’t get recognized enough, but we’re all doing this and I think other officers will continue to do this…Officers do this everyday. Not just police, but different public service jobs as well – teachers, social workers. All of us do this, it’s not a rare occurrence.”
Robinson was prompted to help out the young boy because he was in a similar situation. When he was growing up in Green Bay, former Police Captain Bill Bongle had done something similar. “When I put (the boy) in a squad car and we were going to McDonald’s, it brought back a lot of memories when I was growing up,” Robinson said.
“And Bongle was there in my neighborhood and he’d bring me to the gas station and we would get candy or whatever. I think I met him on one of my birthdays when I was younger and he always came around. If I needed someone to talk to or anything, he was always there, helping me out. And he’s the reason I wanted to go (into) law enforcement. I wanted the opportunity to do for another kid what he did for me.”
After dropping the boy off, he learned that his grandfather was then going to take him to play at the local Chuck E. Cheese. Robinson says he hopes it’s not his last encounter with the child, either. “I do plan on making contact with him in the future and checking on him and see how he’s doing. And if he wants to come tour the police station or see more stuff that we have to offer here, like the SWAT vehicle or other emergency vehicles that we have and play with the lights and sirens, I’d be happy to do that.”
Perhaps helping out the boy in his birthday will encourage him to get into law enforcement. “If I can have the impact Bongle did for me, and he could choose a career in law enforcement and keep this cycle going, I think it would be great,” Robinson said.