Girl Battling Cancer Gets Wish to Become Deputy

A teenage girl battling cancer will be sworn in today as a "special deputy" for the Riverside County Sheriff's Department and treated to a ride-along, helicopter lift and banquet-style lunch, making her lifelong wish come true.

"She is really jazzed up about this," said Corky Bell, founder of the Debbie Chisholm Memorial Foundation, which organized the event for 15-year-old Yasmin Dos Santos.

"Her mom was in tears when she found out what we were going to do for her daughter."

The Temecula teen was diagnosed with ovarian cancer more than a year ago, Bell said. She has wanted to be in law enforcement since she was 7 years old, he said.

According to Bell, about two weeks ago, a friend who knows the Dos Santos family called and told him about Yasmin's wish.

"I got on it right away," the retired sheriff's deputy said. "I contacted Sheriff (Stan) Sniff, and he agreed to help."

The Debbie Chisholm Memorial Foundation draws on the support of law enforcement officers throughout the Inland Empire to enable seriously ill youths' wishes to be fulfilled, at least for a day.

Bell said some 400 Riverside County sheriff's deputies have contributions to the foundation automatically deducted from their paychecks every two weeks.

In the last 15 years, about $1.2 million has been raised to provide trips and special events for stricken children, according to Bell.

At 10 a.m. today, Sniff and senior staff will hold a swearing-in ceremony in the sheriff's executive office, presenting Yasmin with a badge recognizing her as a "special deputy," according to sheriff's Sgt. Dennis Gutierrez.

Following the ceremony, the teenager will be driven around the block in a black-and-white patrol car, lights and siren blaring. Later in the morning, Yasmin will be given a tour of the Ben Clark Public Safety Training Center in Riverside.

"She'll either be given a demonstration or allowed to participate in the Force Option simulator," Bell said.

The simulator tests a recruit's marksmanship and reaction time, using various scenarios.

Gutierrez said that after the academy tour, the sheriff's STAR 9 tactical helicopter will ferry the teen to French Valley Airport, where she will be picked up by a sheriff's car and taken to a catered barbecue in Temecula, attended by deputies from the Temecula station, including the sheriff's Mounted Posse.

"We're expecting around 80 people," Bell said.

After lunch, she will be taken on a ride-along with a Temecula deputy for an hour or two.

Bell said the young cancer patient is undergoing treatment, and appears to be improving.

"She's in remission, from what I understand," he said. "According to what the doctors have told her family, she might be the one in 50,000 with this type of cancer who make it."

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