Spokane's 12th Boy

Kayden Buckley isn't 12-years-old yet, so I guess you can call him the '12th boy.'

"I'm just their (Seattle Seahawks) biggest fan, but everyone else can be their biggest fan, I don't mind," Buckley said.

Kayden doesn't mind sharing the Seahawks, or anything, really. Anyone you talk to at Bemis Elementary, where Kayden attends, will talk about his compassion and empathy for others.

Kayden's family has been through some rough times, financially. His mom signed him up for 'Clothe-A-Child', a program by the Salvation Army and JC Penny that hosts winter shopping sprees for needy children. Kids are paired up with first-responders, who helps pick out clothes.

That's where Kayden met Spokane Police Officer Stephanie Kennedy, who's been in law enforcement for about 20 years. She's new to 'Clothe-A-Child,' making Kayden the first kid she worked with... and, boy, did he set the bar extremely high.

"Kayden is not like normal children. What took me back is how grateful he was and he expressed that," Kennedy said.

Kayden made such an amazing first impression, Kennedy spent additional money out of her pocket to buy Kayden extra clothes. She also promised she'd visit him at school.

"I wanted to come back and surprise him, and maybe a couple of his friends, with lunch one day, but then something happened first," Kennedy said.

That 'something' was in early December at the McCarthey Athletic Center, when the Gonzaga Women's Basketball Team was playing against Stanford. Kennedy was working an overtime shift, providing additional security during the game.

"At the end of the game, our overtime shift was over and this woman came up to me. I could tell she was stressed. She told me she needed to be at the airport at 5:35 and it was 4:40. I instantly was stressed for her because she was going to miss her flight," Kennedy said.

"She tells me that there's no other flights going out and the only thing she had with her was the clear bag you need to get into the arena. She was telling me she was trying to get an Uber driver, but couldn't get one. She just didn't know what to do and I felt bad for her. I wasn't just going to let her miss her flight, so I OK-ed it with the sergeant at the time and he said, on my own time, I could go take her out to the airport," she said.

Kennedy and the woman, whose name is Tammy, start heading towards Spokane International Airport. They started getting to know each other, so Kennedy told her about her job and the things she loved about it... like having opportunities to meet kids like Kayden.

Then, it was Tammy's turn... and that's where this story takes its biggest turn.

"As a police officer, you ask questions. I was asking her, she lives in Seattle? Her daughter goes to Stanford and plays for Stanford? Then she says, well, my son plays for the Seahawks," Kennedy said.

Kennedy said she didn't want to be intrusive, so she kept the thought in the back of her head. As they got closer to the airport, she couldn't help, but ask Tammy: who's your son?

"That's when she told me it was Russell Wilson," Kennedy said.

It turns out this Spokane police officer's random act of kindness was for the mother of Seattle's star quarterback, Russell Wilson. Anna Wilson, Tammy's daughter, plays guard for Stanford's Women's Basketball Team.

"She told me, for my gracious act of taking her to the airport, she was going to have some Seahawks gear sent to me to give to Kayden. I explained, 'you don't have to do that, it's not about that.' But she asked for my number, we texted back and forth, and she arranged the whole thing," Kennedy said.

"She (Tammy) told me this was all about loving one another and being thankful," she said.

Shortly after, a package arrives to Kennedy, containing an autographed Russell Wilson jersey and an autographed Wilson shirt, with a message written: "Why not you?"

Any fan of Russell Wilson knows he's arguably a bigger champion off the field, which includes the 'Why Not You Foundation.' Wilson founded the organization in 2014, dedicated "to creating real and lasting change in the world by motivating, empowering and preparing today's youth to be tomorrow's leaders."

"I have educated myself on the 'Why Not You' Foundation and their mission statement is 'empowering change in the world, one individual at a time, one child at a time,' and I want the Wilson family to know that mission has been accomplished," Kennedy said.

All that was left? Give Kayden, what he calls, "the best Christmas gift ever." With the help of Bemis Elementary and principal Rachel Sherwood, Officer Kennedy surprised Kayden in his fifth-grade classroom. She presented him the gifts, causing Kayden to break down in tears.

"I was like 'woah' cause that's one chance in a lifetime. That's like negative chances, that can never happen," he said.

Kayden said he's taking the message ("Why not you?") to heart. His message for Russell Wilson?

"You inspire me so much. You and Stephanie (Kennedy) are my heroes. I love you guys," Kayden said.

"It wasn't about me being a police officer. It's not about the Spokane Police Department. This is about a very special young man, Kayden," Kennedy said.

KHQ Local News Reporter

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