2016 Chief for a Day Jude Gammons-Reese

Every other year, police departments across Washington State select one local child as "Chief for a Day." The program, organized by the Washington State Criminal Justice Training Center and state law enforcement agencies, chooses children with chronic or life-threatening illnesses to participate in the event, in which they are treated to a day filled with fun, food, gifts and adventures, to help them forget about their problems for a while. In 2016, Ferndale Police Department chose Jude to be our Chief for a Day.

Jude was born in 2008 in Haiti. Born with a “bump” on his back, which was Spina Bifida, his father carried him for eight hours down a mountainside to the closest medical clinic, Real Hope for Haiti. The clinic worked to send children to the US from Haiti for life-saving medical care. The Gammons-Reese family agreed to be Jude’s host family and to care for him while he was in the US having surgery, after which he would return to his birth family in Haiti.

In the two months it took to arrange Jude’s visa he began leaking spinal fluid and became very ill. On the day the visa was issued, with the help of missionaries and other volunteers, he was flown to Austin, Texas, where he had several surgeries, not just for the Spina Bifida but also for the accompanying Hydrocephalus (excess fluids in the brain.) Jude had three brain surgeries during this time, to get the Hydrocephalus under control.

Jude was also born with club feet and wears leg braces, has chiari (brain stem) malformation and is paralyzed mostly from the waist down. Jude’s birth parents had hoped that the surgery would make him be able to have “feeling” in his legs and when they realized he was going to have mobility issues for his lifetime they decided it would be best for Jude to stay in the United States and to be adopted. After caring for baby Jude for so many weeks, the Gammons-Reese family were in love with him and happy that he was going to be staying with them as their son forever. They understood the life he would have had in Haiti with his birth family and how many hardships and medical risks there would have been. They know how blessed they are to have access to medical care and never take that for granted.

Jude is now an outgoing seven-year old boy. Jude loves taking hip hop dance classes and he loves to dress up and wear a tie. Jude is funny, smart and kind. He is a resilient little boy who has had about 12 surgeries over the past seven years, with many more to come in the future.

He and his family spend a lot of time at Children’s Hospital, and his greatest challenges medically through the years have not been related to his Spina Bifida, but to asthma and allergies which give him a ton of grief. Jude’s family consider him to be a blessing, and we at the Ferndale Police Department have to agree!

Click here to see some pictures from Jude's big day!