WENATCHEE — Eight youngsters took over local law and fire agencies Thursday for the day.
And some had their own ideas of how things should be done.
East Wenatchee Police Department Chief Edgar Hernandez, 9, decided everyone in uniform had to do five push-ups. Of course, they obliged. His mom, Oralia Valdovines, then pinned on his badge.
“We’re getting things done today. We’re just getting started,” said East Wenatchee Police Chief Rick Johnson, who shared his hat with Hernandez for the day. (Johnson introduced his fellow chief as Giovanni Hernandez.)
“Just don’t ask elected officials to do pushups, because we’ll never get it done,” said Wenatchee Mayor Frank Kuntz.
Hernandez, a third-grader at Lee Elementary School, and seven other children were nominated by their school nurses, staff and anyone else who wanted to, said Susan Mullen, Chief For A Day organizer and Washington State Patrol public disclosure supervisor. The event was part of the annual Washington State Apple Blossom Festival.
“It really means a lot to me after the year he’s had,” said Matt Hunt, father of Shaun Hunt, who was state Department of Fish and Wildlife chief for the day.
Shaun, 11, is a fifth-grader at Columbia Elementary School in Wenatchee. He was born with arteriovenous malformation, or AVM, Matt Hunt said. The condition caused Shaun in March to be rushed to Harborview Medical Center in Seattle with a sort of blood clot in his brain. AVM is a tangle of abnormal blood vessels connecting arteries and veins in the brain, according to Mayo Clinic’s website.
Shaun had surgery, but not before Matt and Melissa Hunt, Shaun’s mother, got worried about losing their son. He pulled through and retained his energy.
“He didn’t really have any challenges,” Matt said of raising Shaun. “The biggest thing is getting him to settle down. He just wants to go, go, go.”
Another official on the move is Douglas County Fire District 2 Chief Amelia Nova, 5, a kindergartner at Clovis Point Elementary School in East Wenatchee. She said she was happy to be nominated as chief as she drove her wheelchair after the pinning ceremony.
She also wanted to ride in a fire truck, a request granted by the Wenatchee Valley's top firefighter, Chief Brian Brett. She’ll ride in the Apple Blossom Youth Parade on Saturday.
Amelia’s father, Nicholas Nova, said his daughter getting nominated was “very exciting.”
“It’s always nice to be included,” he said. “It is difficult for children with disabilities to get included and things like this. And it's not it's not like a malicious thing or anything like that. It's just that people don't see things from a seated position, if that makes sense."
Amelia was born with merosin deficient congenital muscular dystrophy, Nicholas Nova said, which makes her weaker than other children and with less muscle tone, but she is “very bright.”
“Every kid has challenges that you have to handle,” he said. “I think we do the same types of things that other parents do for their children. You know, we work really hard to make sure she gets the opportunities that she needs to thrive and grow. And you know, at the end of the day, it really just comes down to that. You just find out what your kid needs in order for them to succeed, and you try to make sure they get it.”
After being nominated, kids who could were fitted for their own uniform by Diane Ritter of Sew Rite Alterations, who has volunteered to create the outfits since 2014. She also sews outfits for the festival's royal court.
“The children are amazing,” she said. “They really have a positive attitude.”