When Jayvon Felton's mom took him to the hospital in April, she thought he had a stomach virus. Instead, the 9-year-old was diagnosed with acute lymphoblastic leukemia and kept in intensive care for more than a month as his mother slept in a chair by his side, night after night.
While his recovery isn't over, the spirited fourth grader showed his courage and caring on Friday. He got a chance to try out his dream job: not a movie star, not a professional athlete, but Detroit police chief.
"When he was little, he always talked about the police, how they make things safe," Jayvon's mom, Amanda Clinkscales, told The Huffington Post. "He told me, 'Mom, when I get older I want to fight crime and help people.'" When he found out about Friday's adventure, "his bottom lip just dropped" in excitement, Clinkscales said.
The opportunity was arranged with the Children's Hospital of Michigan to lift Jayvon's spirits as he undergoes grueling treatment -- his mom said he will have chemotherapy for over three more years. With an incredibly vulnerable immune system, Jayvon has been kept at home as his peers attend school. He won't return until next year.
But on Friday, he donned a kid-sized uniform and was picked up by police officers at his home in Detroit for the chance of a lifetime.
After a ride in their cruisers, they took a helicopter over the city before landing at headquarters, where Jayvon met Detroit Police Chief James Craig. He was then sworn into office. He saw the workings of the department and gave a press conference, putting aside his illness for a day and showing the trademark silliness that his mom loves about him.
"You got any orders?” Craig asked him, according to the Detroit News. “Take the day off,” Jayvon joked.
"It was just so amazing to see him so grown up and so mature," Clinkscales said. "It made me a proud mom, I was just so happy to see him happy."
Not every moment has been happy in the last months. Jayvon gets multiple kinds of chemotherapy, including lumbar punctures. When he first started treatment, the medicine made him sick and he couldn't eat. He dropped from 100 pounds to about 60, his mom said. He lost his hair, and his mom said he often missed his friends and worried they would forget him when he couldn't see them for months on end. He told his mom he just wished he could be a regular kid again.
"I was like, 'Jayvon, you are a regular kid,'" Clinkscales said. "I try to keep positive, I just hope he keeps fighting."
So one of the best parts of Friday was the pizza party. Jayvon's classmates and principal came to the police station, where they all got to spend time together.
It was a powerful moment for cops too. “I can only imagine the strength and courage it takes for this young man, police chief, to fight this illness every day,” said Craig, according to the Free Press.
Most importantly, his mom said, Jayvon got a chance to see that people were rooting for him.
"He's not going through this alone. Family, friends, we're all here for him 100 percent."