GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (CNN) Grand Rapids Police Officer Austin Lynema and 9-year-old Thomas Daniel, became fast friends when Lynema gave Thomas a ride to school.
Officer Austen Lynema threw 9-year-old Thomas Daniel a party when no one showed up for his birthday celebration. (Source: CNN)
Lynema, 22 years old and six months on the job, saw the 9-year-old in need, capturing it all on bodycam video.
"I was finishing a call on Kindle Street and saw Thomas running down the sidewalk trying to catch up to his bus crying,” Lynema said.
Thomas, along with his mom and brother who immigrated from Tanzania, was devastated because he missed the bus. His mother doesn’t have a car and couldn’t give him a ride to school.
Thomas loves school.
"I missed school and I really want to go to school and do my work and have fun," Thomas said.
Lynema took him to school – and gave Thomas the ride with the lights on and the full works.
"Everything. Yeah, he was all grins," Lynema said.
Lynema also learned this wasn't an ordinary day, it was Thomas's birthday.
"Thomas confided in me that he didn't think that anybody else would show up to his birthday party, because he was being bullied at school, he invited his entire class," Lynema said.
Lynema and his partner decided on a surprise of their own and decided to show up to the birthday party. But no one else showed up – and there was no cake.
The next day, Lynema and fellow officers went the extra mile, bringing him Krispy Kreme doughnuts, and a Grand Rapids Police goody bag that had shirts, hats and stickers and more.
"Yeah, we weren't going to let a 9-year-old not have a party," Lynema said.
The story made the news and now cards and gifts are arriving from across the country.
And now Thomas says he wants to be a police officer when he grows up.
Lynema, from a family of public servants, driven to go above and beyond, helping a young man and his family as they begin their American dream.
Copyright 2019 Grand Rapids Police Department, WXMI via CNN. All rights reserved.