Kelly Sapp, an officer with the Kansas City Police Department, is walking halfway across the state for Nasir, a 6-year-old afraid he won’t live to adulthood.
Sapp embarked from Lee’s Summit Tuesday and walked more than 100 miles along U.S. 50 to Jefferson City. He plans to meet with Gov. Eric Greitens Thursday afternoon, where he’ll speak about Nasir and other children facing violence and neglect in Kansas City, as well as what can be done to improve law enforcement in KC.
Sapp is a 23-year veteran of the department who also served with special operations forces and later as a contractor with a warfare group in Iraq and Afghanistan. He now serves as a mentor to Nasir in the Lead to Read program.
Nasir inspired Sapp’s walk after the young boy expressed fear that he wouldn’t survive childhood. Nasir has also asked Sapp for a flashlight; he wanted to use it to make safety checks in his house after dark.
“When you hear kids talk like that in war-torn countries, you kind of expect it, but you don’t accept it,” Sapp said in a video. “When you hear a kid in our city, our state and our country talking about being dead before they’re 18 — not on my watch. Hell no.”
Sapp’s wife, Denise Sapp, said Thursday by phone that her husband plans to tell the governor about Nasir’s story, and he will also advocate for more funding for law enforcement. Denise Sapp said her husband is concerned that KCPD has too few officers and that response times to 911 calls are too long.
Sapp was moved to action on behalf of other children in the city, as well. Denise Sapp recalled a harrowing incident investigated by her husband in which eight children were abandoned in KC, including an infant.
“One little girl grabbed her blanket, went upstairs and died,” Denise Sapp said. (The other seven children, though, will soon be adopted.)
The true distance of the walk is about 127 miles, but Sapp rode in his wife’s vehicle for 20 miles of dangerous highway. And though the journey has garnered media attention, Sapp made clear he isn’t the subject of this story.
“This isn’t about me,” he said. “It’s about Nasir.”