A Wisconsin teenager with terminal brain cancer had his dream of becoming a police officer come true when he was sworn in to the Menasha Police Department on January 6.
Chance Van Stippen, 13, became an honorary police officer for the day with the help of the Menasha, Fox Crossing and Neenah police departments.
“It was the very first thing he ever said he wanted to do was be a police officer,” Chance’s mother, Shayla Van Stippen, told Spectrum News 1. “Never once changed, not even fluctuated for two seconds.”
During the ceremony, Chance received a uniform, badge and his own set of handcuffs. Shayla, who pinned the badge on her son, could tell he was having a great day and was very happy.
“Happier than I’ve seen him in a long time,” she noted. “He’s a very happy kid in general, always with a smile, but it was a different kind of smile. You could just see the pureness, the absolute bliss, like he was on cloud nine.”
The day was a welcome change for the family, who had a rough November.
During the ceremony, Chance received a uniform, badge and his own set of handcuffs.
During that single month, their home was destroyed in a fire, and days later Chance was diagnosed with diffuse midline glioma, a rare and aggressive brain cancer.
“Unfortunately, they gave us about a year-and-a-half left with him because of how aggressive it is, and it’s not a cancer that’s usually beat,” Shayla said.
After Chance was sworn in, police taught the teen how to shoot a TASER and a simulation gun at the Fox Valley Technical College’s practice range. Chance also met the department’s German shepherd K-9 Cammie.
Menasha Police Officer Dan Hoernke said, “There were a lot of emotions in there and a lot of emotions that came out today.”
Hoernke also said the community is rallying to support the family; “it shows how a heart-wrenching event in a family’s life can turn into something so positive if a community can get together to surround and support that family.”
Chance finished radiation treatments just days before becoming an honorary cop.
“It means everything to Chance,” Shayla said after the event. “He has told anybody and everybody that will listen to him that the community was doing this for him. He was in radiation — every day, he told the nurses, and the nurses let him talk about the same story every day. They listened. He was counting down. This was the one thing he looked forward to, finishing radiation.”
The family said they plan on undergoing clinical trials for new treatments to help Chance fight the disease. In the meantime, Chance remains in good spirits.
“Chance is so dedicated and has so much faith that he’s going to be a miracle,” Shayla said. “He wholeheartedly believes he’s going to be a miracle and that something’s going to happen. So, he wants to try anything and everything and I stand behind that. We’re going to do everything we can.”
The family plans to visit places that Chance has always wanted to see, including Universal Studios, Disneyland, Lego Land and the Rocky Mountains.
“From there, those are the first he’s mentioned. After that, I said we can talk about and keep deciding,” Shayla said.
A GoFundMe page has been launched for the family to raise money following the fire and Chance’s diagnosis.