Zalend Thames, 9, was feeling self-conscious after losing his finger in a tile saw accident last year. To make Zalend feel better about himself and his amputated finger, two police officers, both amputees themselves, met up with the boy to prove he should be proud of who he is.
It turns out it was Zalend’s grandmother who got the whole idea rolling. Reportedly she saw Rackow at a carnival and noticed he was an amputee. She later decided to track him down and ask him to chat to her grandson to make him feel better about his amputated finger. Officer Dave Edwards and Lt. Brian Rackow of the Midland Police Department in Texas then met up with Zalend to show him he isn’t alone.
Edwards lost a finger in an accident while still at college and wanted to show Zalend that he will still be able to play the sports he loves, including baseball, even with an amputated finger, while Rackow had lost his entire hand in an explosion while on duty.
The trio of amputees met up recently and shared a photo on Facebook last week, and according to them, the meeting definitely had a positive effect on the 9-year-old.
On the Facebook post, the Midland Police Department wrote, “Hey Midland, meet 9-year-old Zalend! It took a lot of courage for him to take this picture. Zalend recently lost part of his index finger in an accident and has been afraid to show others his injury. Lt. Rackow and Officer Edwards met with Zalend to show him that he’s not alone, and to let him know despite any obstacle, you can achieve anything you put your mind to. We are proud to call you our friend, Z. Let’s hear it for Zalend! #CourageousZalend.”
Zalend’s story made it all the way to HLN, Fox News and now The Huffington Post. We are so proud of you, buddy! https://t.co/NXgW0mgctD
— Midland Police Dept. (@MidlandTxPD) March 9, 2016
Speaking to the Huffington Post, Rackow said Zalend felt like everyone has been noticing his amputated finger. He added that the young boy has been sticking his hands in his pockets, always feeling like he has an audience watching him and noticing the missing digit.
He said, “We just pointed out to him… that he’s not alone out there.”
“That was a really great thing for us to get the chance to do.”
According to Rackow, there is definitely a change in Zalend’s attitude since the meeting. He noticed that while they were sitting and talking to him, the boy stopped putting his hands under the desk.
“He brought his hands out.”
However, since the photo of the meeting was posted on Facebook, Rackow and Edwards are not alone in showing compassion and encouragement for Zalend. In response to the post, many other social media users shared stories and photos of their own amputations and experiences, giving the young boy words of encouragement.
The post has received 5.5k reactions and 1,055 shares at the time of writing, and one Facebook user said “Let’s hear it for the police officers. When I was 18 I lost part of my left thumb. I was embarrassed when I headed off to college with the recent injury. I survived and you will too. This will probably make you a kinder and stronger person.”
Another user wrote: “I lost my left ring finger in a friendly fire training accident 10 years ago,” adding, “I am still on the job and love it the same as day one. You can do anything you want. Never give up.”
— Huffington Post (@HuffingtonPost) March 10, 2016
Another posted an image of a three-legged dog, saying “Hero’s [sic] come in ALL sizes, way to be brave Zalend.”
Rackow said he hopes that Zalend will take all the kind and compassionate messages to heart and will someday pay that kindness forward. He said the whole meeting was to show him that life will go on for him, and “hopefully he’ll take that and if he meets someone else going through the same struggles, he’ll do the same for them.”
[Photo via Facebook]