BATON ROUGE, LA (WAFB) - Louisiana State Police hosted an 11 year old boy and his family from St. Francisville Wednesday for a very special reason. The child has Diffuse Intrinsic Pontine Glioma (DIPG), an aggressive form of brain cancer that affects children almost exclusively and claims the lives of 90 percent of its victims within two years of diagnosis.
He made the wish to be a "Trooper for a Day" through the LSP Grant-A-Wish Program.
For now, JJ seems to be outliving predictions by a year.
Dreams Come True, the charitable organization in Louisiana that tries to give every child with catastrophic illness their hearts desires worked out this special day with Louisiana State Police. Troopers have a long-standing commitment to St. Judge Children's Research Hospital and Dreams Come True. Troopers continually volunteer to help those causes.
State Police Commander Mike Edmonson "deputized" JJ, gave him a trooper's badge to wear and sent him on patrol.
He had lessons on not just how to fire a gun, but when to shoot. After he was shown the procedure for shooting, they sent him into a training building they use for state troopers. Inside are situations, and a "trooper" must decide quickly whether its a threat or non-threat. If trooper hesitates too long, the suspect "kills" him.
Walker rounded a corner and in a split-second made the correct choice twice. Both men he "shot" were armed and dangerous.
JJ smiled as an officer told him, "You've gotta buckle up for safety, there Trooper JJ, we enforce the law baby!" They all laughed as JJ snapped the seat belt on with a big smile. He was in a patrol car and the driver showed him where the switches for the siren were so he could sound the siren as they went on "patrol".
It wasn't long before they were chasing a suspect, and when he was pulled over, JJ jumped out to make the arrest. Following whispered instructions on the way to proceed, he asked the suspect to put his hands behind his back and drop to his knees. Walker was handed a pair of handcuffs and cuffed the suspect.
News media who were there to record JJ's Dream Come True, also acted as new media would if they happened on this arrest in a state police pursuit.
JJ rode on the back of a trooper's motorcycle wearing matching helmets while the cycle wound through an obstacle course set up for cycle training.
At the end of what was an entire day of on-the-job experience, JJ was asked by WAFB News, "Did you like what you did? What was it like?"
JJ shook his head with a shrug like he could not find the right words... and with a serious look on his face, said "More fun than anything else. That's all I could say."
J.J.'s saga began in February 2012 when at age 8, he was diagnosed with diffuse intrinsic pontine glioma (DIPG), an aggressive form of brain cancer that affects children almost exclusively and claims the lives of 90 percent of its victims within two years of diagnosis.
J.J. still has "an abnormality" that shows up on the MRIs that he undergoes every three months. But so far, the degree of success in J.J.'s treatment has been "very, very rare," according to Dr. Alberto Broniscer, who has treated J.J. at St. Jude Children's Research Hospital in Memphis, Tennessee.
J.J. underwent six weeks of aggressive radiation and a two-year clinical trial with a chemotherapy pill called Crenolanib.