When thieves broke into the Ramirez family car last week, they stole the car’s battery, stereo, tools and, most devastating of all, the leg braces 9-year-old Geovanni needs to walk.
The theft is a huge financial setback for the Ramirez family, and it forces little Geovanni to be wheelchair bound, as he cannot walk without the braces because he was born with cerebral palsy.
When the family reported the theft to police, the investigating officer’s heart went out to them. He took up a collection to replace the braces.
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He received donations from fellow officers, cadets and LAPD’s Eagle & Badge Foundation, which helps children and officers in need.
Chief Charlie Beck said the case has touched the hearts of those who work at Newton division, which polices one of the toughest areas of LA.
"Newton division is an incredibly tough place to be a cop,” Beck said Wednesday. “It's even a tougher place to be a kid, especially a kid born with a disability."
Geovanni has kept in good spirits despite the setback. During a meeting with Beck and other officers Wednesday, the boy was given some baseball cards, and he asked if he could have some books from their free lending library.
The family doesn’t yet know how much the replacement braces will cost, but do know the family will need all the help it can get. In addition to the donations already gathered, officers have set up a fundraising page on GoFundMe.com.
"We didn't just take the report and walk away,” Capt. Jorge Rodriguez said of the department’s commitment to help. “The officers right away enlisted help of other officers to get this family the help it needs for this young child."