Okeechobee County boy is deputy for a day

OKEECHOBEE — Once again, our local heroes are making life a little more fun for a young boy in our community by taking time out of their busy schedules to make him feel special. On Monday, Aug. 5, the Okeechobee County Sheriff’s Office made 8-year-old Connor Jackson an honorary deputy for a day. Last month, Okeechobee Fire Rescue went to Connor’s home to give him a tour of the fire engines. What makes Connor so special?

Special to the Lake Okeechobee News
On behalf of Sheriff Noel E. Stephen we would like to introduce our newest “Special Deputy for the Day” Mr. Connor Jackson, excuse me, Special Deputy Connor Jackson. Connor has been fighting Chiari Malformation and Hydrocephalus for most of his young life; these ailments have caused him to undergo 24 surgeries to date. Connor also has Aspergers and is nothing short of a tough young man. When Sheriff Stephen heard that Conner’s dream was to be a Deputy Sheriff for Okeechobee County Sheriff’s Office, he immediately put his Community Relations team to work. (Pictured left to right behind Connor are Connor’s sister Emmabelle Pippin, Connor’s mother, Wendy Barron, family friend Sara Jackson and Sheriff Noel Stephen.)

When Connor was 5, he was diagnosed with Chiari malformation, a condition in which brain tissue extends into your spinal canal. It occurs when part of your skull is abnormally small or misshapen, pressing on your brain and forcing it downward. His malformation was severe, and he had to have decompression surgery. During the same hospital stay, they discovered he had hydrocephalus, and required a shunt. In the three years since, he has had 22 brain surgeries — five of them since June. He will most likely be having a cranial vault expansion, because the shunts no longer work. As I sit here writing this story today, the day after his wonderful day as a deputy, Connor and his mom are in Orlando meeting with the neurosurgeon and complex care team.

Special to the Lake Okeechobee News
Connor has dreamed of becoming a deputy since he was old enough to pick up a pair of toy handcuffs.

Monday night Connor lay in his mother’s arms crying and dry heaving from the pain, but she read him the comments from everyone about his day and she said it brought a smile to his face. She said, “Our community and their support, our local law enforcement, have given Connor a way to find the strength he needs to keep pushing forward. This evening, as I hold my baby in my arms, and contemplate tomorrow, I am reminded of something my dad has always told me, ‘I don’t know what tomorrow holds, but I know who holds tomorrow!’”

Family friend Sara Jackson said, “Today was an amazing day for Connor. He got to meet our Okeechobee sheriff and become a deputy for the day. Thank you Jack Nash, Noel Stephen, Deputy Ivan Aristy, Michele Bell and all the other fine people at the Okeechobee Sheriff Department. Connor will never forget this morning. It has been his dream since he could hold a pair of toy cuffs to become an officer of the law. Tomorrow he goes to the neurosurgeon and the complex care doctor, but today, today he got to have a blast.”

When Sheriff Noel Stephen heard that Connor’s dream was to be a deputy sheriff for Okeechobee County Sheriff’s Office, he put his Community Relations team to work.

“I am privileged and honored to meet, and make smile, a young man that has been through so much in his young life, and we can all learn from his strength,” commented Sheriff Stephen.

Cathy Womble is a staff writer for the Lake Okeechobee News.

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