GEORGIA — One officer’s cake baking hobby ended up bringing police departments in Georgia together to throw a surprise party for a boy with cerebral palsy.
Tye Clinner was diagnosed with the condition when he was born, and is unable to walk or sit up on his own. In December, he was awarded a trip to Disney World by Baking Memories 4 Kids, an organization that gives dream vacations to children with life-threatening and terminal illnesses.
His face lights up at any mention of Disney, according to his mother, Crystal.
With his birthday right around the corner and the family about to embark on a trip of a lifetime, Crystal Clinner wanted a special cake to mark both occasions.
Lt. Brandy Forman of the Smyrna Police Department likes to bake, and volunteers with a nonprofit, Icing Smiles, that provides custom cakes for families with ill children.
She learned about Tye through the organization, and after hearing his story, she told CNN she knew she could help with “way more than a cake.”
The Smyrna Police Department, located in metro Atlanta, coordinated a surprise party for Tye that included pizza, wings and his own officer shirt.
“If you have the opportunity to do something good for someone else, do it,” Forman said.
On Sunday, Tye celebrated his 13th birthday with some of Smyrna’s finest and got an up-close look at some police equipment, including controlling a robot. He was all smiles as he sat inside a police cruiser and pressed the button to make the siren go off.
The police department shared information about the party on social media, and opened it up for the community to attend. The news traveled to neighboring police departments, Dunwoody and Duluth, that brought their police vehicles for the children to check out.
“We have to find alternative ways in connecting with the people that we serve,” Smyrna Community Relations Sergeant Louis Defense told CNN. “If not, we are failing our community and that’s not what we are trying to do.”
The theme of the event was Disney and pirates, two of Tye’s favorites things, according to his mother. Forman made an impressive three tier cake, with a pirate map wrapped around one layer, treasure coins perched on another, and a set of Mickey Mouse ears on the top.
But while Forman loves baking, she’ll stick to her day job — making cakes is more stressful than police work, she said.
During the party, a few officers showed off their singing skills as they took the microphone for some karaoke. Tye, who only speaks a few words, was seen at the party with a big smile on his face.
“To see everyone love him as much as I do means the world to me,” Clinner told CNN as she held back tears. “It’s really hard to find the words to what this means to me.”
This party doubled as a send-off for Tye and his family, who headed to Disney World the next day.
“I know Tye had a blast,” said Sgt. Defense. “I know, equally, we all had a great time.”