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5-year-old boy with mystery illness becomes officer for a day

Posted at 5:14 PM, Jul 23, 2019
and last updated 2019-07-23 20:01:28-04

NEW FRANKLIN, Ohio — A 5-year-old New Franklin boy, who has battled a mysterious illness and dreams of becoming a police officer, got a very early start on his career.

C.J. Lieb spent several hours as an honorary cop with his partner Officer Jason Tirbovich from the New Franklin Police Department.

C.J. was given a police uniform and badge, sworn in by Mayor Paul Adamson, and then had a blast during a ride along with Tirbovich.

The boy turned on the flashing lights, honked a police horn and made several stops at local businesses where he received gifts, including donuts and a t-shirt.

At one point while driving, Tirbovich said to youngster, "What do you think about being a police officer so far? You liking it?"

C.J. responded, "Yeah, I like the badge."

The officer of the day experience was made possible by A Special Wish Cleveland Chapter, which grants wishes for Cleveland-based children with life-threatening diseases from birth up to 20 years of age.

Currently, the foundation grants wishes for 181 children and families receiving care at University Hospitals Rainbow Babies & Children's Hospital, Cleveland Clinic Children's Hospital, Akron Children's Hospital and the Ronald McDonald House.

According to C.J.'s mother, Tara Ferguson, doctors discovered enlarged lymph nodes all over the boy's body when he was 10 months old.

"That's kind of when the mystery started. They realized that there was something not right. They couldn't figure out exactly what," Ferguson said.

Doctors believe he has a genetic disorder causing immune dysregulation, but an exact diagnosis hasn't been made.

However, in June of 2018, C.J. had a bone marrow transplant and has been feeling great. His family considers it a miracle.

"We are hoping that this was a cure," his mom added.

Spending the day with the boy was very meaningful to Officer Tirbovich, who is the father of two boys.

"You don't want to take your children for granted, and enjoy every minute of it with them," he said. "He's going to make a good New Franklin police officer someday hopefully."

Ferguson said C.J. may never stop talking about his police officer experience and with his wish complete, the soon-to-be kindergartner moves one shift closer to his dream.

"If he grows up to be a police officer, I think it's going to be the coolest thing in the world to look back on this," she said.