It’s not every seven-year-old boy that would walk away from a meeting with Mickey Mouse at Walt Disney World to go shake the hand of a police officer standing nearby instead. But then again, Grant Schroeder of Shawnee isn’t your typical seven year old.
And that’s exactly what his mom said he did during a family vacation to the most magical place on earth.
For the last five years, Grant has been certain of one thing – he wants to be a police officer when he grows up.
Grant has taken his interest in future police work so seriously, that he has already dedicated his free time to trying to improve the lives of local officers.
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For four days in September, Grant spent long hours outside his house selling Kool-Aid and homemade cookies that were lovingly baked by his grandmother. When all was said and done, Grant raised $1,200. The accomplishment even surprised Grant, who had exceeded his goal of $1,000.
He decided to donate the money to a group called Going to the Dogs. It’s a nonprofit organization dedicated to raising money so that police dogs can have bulletproof vests. Bulletproof vests for police dogs can cost around $1,000.
Now, thanks to his efforts, Grant has raised enough money for the Olathe Police Department to buy Axel the police dog a bulletproof vest. When asked why he worked so hard selling cookies, Grant’s reason was quite simple.
“I just want to help protect Axel,” Grant said.
A week ago, Grant got the opportunity to present the bulletproof vest to Axel and his handler, Officer Ian Mills, in person. Mills said that when he was told that his trusty German Shepherd companion would now be protected thanks to the efforts of an enterprising youngster, he could hardly believe what he was hearing.
“It’s surprising that a young man would care that much to help officers and police dogs,” Officer Mills said. “I’m flabbergasted that he was able to do that so fast. He is a young man that cares for police and police dogs and it’s refreshing to see.”
This isn’t the first time that Grant has worked so tirelessly on behalf of police officers.
Last April, Grant took it upon himself to organize a police officer appreciation day at his elementary school. He took the idea to his principal and even wrote up a plan in crayon on blue construction paper.
He approached local businesses for donations to give to the officers as a thank you and even asked his grandmother for more homemade goodies. Melissa Schroeder, Grant’s mom, said she was amazed when 40 officers from five different agencies showed up for the event.
Schroeder said that over the years, she and Grant have frequently visited local police departments to drop off treats and pizza as a thank you for all they do. They’ve visited police departments in Olathe, Lenexa, Shawnee and Kansas City, Kansas as well as the highway patrol and sheriff’s department. They even visit police departments while on vacation in other states.
And each time, the officers they have met along the way have been so friendly and welcoming to Grant. She believes those positive interactions with police officers have helped create a servant’s heart in her son.
“I really believe that everything he is doing is because of what they have done for him,” Schroeder said. “They really give from the heart and that’s what they have taught my son and you can’t ask for more than that.”
Grant said he has more plans to raise money for additional bulletproof vests for local police dogs. He’s already considering another bake sale. It will be just another way that he can show his appreciation and deliver a personal message to all those who protect and serve.
“I just want to say thank you to all of the police officers,” Grant said.