In the summer of 2012, Riley started staring off and feeling ill. Not knowing what was wrong, his parents rushed him to the hospital and doctors discovered that he was having a seizure. Riley seized for nearly 14 hours before the medical team got it under control.
As the years went by, Riley’s doctors administered medicine and performed surgeries to relieve the symptoms of an extreme form of epilepsy, but nothing stuck. After much consideration and with the support of his family, Riley underwent a very risky brain surgery that succeeded in eliminating his seizures but resulted in paralysis on the left side of his body.
Now seizure-free, Riley was forced to relearn how to do everything, from walking to showering. Despite this massive obstacle, he was determined to get his strength up. Almost one year after his surgery, Riley walked out of the hospital, proving to his doctors and family that he was well enough to travel for his one true wish.
Riley’s desire to be in law enforcement goes way back to his childhood. He dressed up as a different member of law enforcement every Halloween and struck up a friendly relationship with his local police department. His room is decked out in police memorabilia gifted to him, including badges, gear and handcuffs.
But after seeing the coverage of the One October tragedy in Las Vegas, Riley was deeply impressed, watching how the power of law enforcement brought the community together. That’s when Riley realized his one true wish. Riley wished to be a police officer, but not in his home state of New Jersey. Inspired by the acts of bravery he watched on his TV, Riley specifically wanted to join the Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department.
“I chose to be a Las Vegas police officer because of the way they serve and protect the community every day, because of how the officers went in and tried to protect and serve everyone that night,” he explained.
On September 30th, 2019, the day before the second anniversary of the shooting, Riley’s wish came true. After a surprise police escort to the airport coordinated by Make-A-Wish New Jersey, Riley and his parents traveled across the country to start his police officer training at the Northwest Area Command’s Jerry Keller Training Facility.
Riley had a jam-packed day with the LVMPD. Shortly after his arrival at the Academy, he donned his utility belt and dove straight into basic defensive training, where he learned everything from handcuffing to flashlight manipulation. Afterwards, he met Sheriff Joe Lombardo and was introduced to the SWAT team, Air, K-9 and Motor Units.
After some additional training, Riley and the fellow members of his “Blue” Class took a group photo. There, his fellow recruits presented him with a custom-made plaque they had all signed. Now armed with a wealth of information and newly acquired skills, Officer Riley put on his official uniform and graduated from the training academy.
The fun wasn’t over yet! Now an “official” officer, Riley attended a real-life briefing and then went out on his first call, a simulated robbery scenario. Using everything he learned that day, Riley and his squad pulled up to the scene, apprehended two suspects and cleared an entire office building.
Still bursting with adrenaline after justice was served, Riley ended the day by meeting another hero. Officer Brady Cook, who was shot responding to 1 October, on his first shift as a police officer. During their conversation, Riley got an in-depth look at what it truly means to protect and serve.
“This has been such a great time to see him actually truly smile,” Riley’s mom, Jennifer, explained. Returning to New Jersey with an excitement to help his community, Riley feels like he can overcome any obstacle in his life.
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