Jonesboro boy's love for police gains national attention

(Source: KAIT)
(Source: KAIT)
(Source: KAIT)
(Source: KAIT)
(Source: KAIT)
(Source: KAIT)

JONESBORO, AR (KAIT) - When it comes to public servants, an 11-year-old Region 8 boy cannot get enough.

Landon Hathcoat has a childlike wonder matched with a heart of joy and he is touching lives across the country.

Police officers, firefighters, and EMS crews, they are all professions that speak to Landon's soul.

"They put fires out and the policemen help people," Landon explained.

JoAnne, Landon's mother, sees in Landon those same values he does police officers and firefighters: putting others needs before their own and the selflessness it takes to drop everything and run to the problem

"He can't stand the thought of homeless people," she said.  "He can't stand the thought of animals hurting and I think that's what he idolizes them about, that they go out and help everybody."

While many kids like Landon would dream of the day they could do that too, JoAnne said he's quickly realizing that's not going to happen.

"We were laying in bed one night and he started talking about his muscular dystrophy and he kept saying things like 'I ignore thinking about when I'm older' and I said 'what do you mean you ignore it?,'" she said. "He said, 'how am I supposed to be a cop if I can't go up stairs and if I'm going to be in a wheelchair?'"

With muscular dystrophy, mobility is limited, so the mother and son got together to think of other ways to get Landon involved with the first responder community.

They decided to start a collection. "He said, 'put it on Facebook mom and see if anyone will send me a hat or something,'" JoAnne said.

With the power of social media, they got about 12 hats and so many badges, pins and letters that it's hard for Landon to keep up.

"Here's stickers from an ambulance," Hathcoat said as he showed Region 8 News his collection.

Gifts keep piling in the mailbox from across the country. Though there is always a lot of gifts in the family's mail box, it's the mail itself that means the most to JoAnne.

It's letters from officers, sergeants, and police chiefs across the United States that JoAnne pointed out.

Andy Vistron is one of several police officers from afar who took a little time to say thank you  to one of their biggest supporters. JoAnne read aloud from the letter Vistron sent her son.

"We're in hopes that this message finds you well," she read. "Although we've never met face to face, we'd like to thank you for your unwavering support of law enforcement in this great country. Behind the badge and the body armor is heart. We are human beings too. If not for the unwavering support of young men and women such as you, who back law enforcement agencies, we would not be able to get up day after day, put on the badge, and carry out the essential functions of our job. We can never truly thank you for that kind of loyalty and support."

Back at home, Landon's loyalty and support landed him with some perks from local police too.

He got to ride in the Craighead County's MRAP down to the shooting range with some of the men and women he admires most.

JoAnne said the day created lasting memories for Landon, but did even more than that. She said the experience opened her son's eyes to the possibilities his future holds.

"Since doing it, and the officers he's met, he's learned there's a lot of positions he can do, even in a wheelchair, that can work with police," she said. "It's kind of given him hope."

Copyright 2016 KAIT. All rights reserved.

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