Lewis-McChord Criminal Investigation Division grants child's wish
May 25, 2012
JOINT BASE LEWIS-McCHORD, Wash. (May 25, 2012) -- On an unusually sunny Saturday, children at JBLM are outside, playing baseball, running, riding bicycles with friends and neighbors. Many are carefree and innocently oblivious to the fact that for some kids running while playing outside is something they will never experience.
Cobey Pretz has never ran or known what it is like to play outside without the assistance of his wheelchair.
Pretz, a native of Auburn, Wash., visited JBLM with a life-long dream. For as long as Cobey could remember he has wanted to be a special agent. The possibility of him reaching this dream has been hindered, since he was diagnosed as a baby, with Spinal Muscular Atrophy, known as SMA.
SMA affects motor neurons in the spinal cord and brain. As a consequence, Cobey's muscles continuously weaken.
Fifteen Soldiers assigned to the 44th Military Police Detachment, Criminal Investigation Division came together making Cobey's dream of becoming a criminal investigator a reality May 19, at the CID office at JBLM.
Spc. Blanca M. Shore, an investigator assigned to the 44th, whose son also has SMA, paved the road for Cobey by convincing her co-workers of the need to make his wish come true.
Shore said she met Cobey and his mother Jodi Pretz at a "Families for SMA" charity potluck last year.
Shore says she has a special place in her heart for children who suffer with this disease.
"They are awesome kids who have so much to deal with just by having the disease," explained Shore. "They are so happy, outgoing and bubbly."
Blanca's supervisor, Warrant Officer Kevin H. Kim, assistant team chief at the 44th, and the members of his team planned a scenario which allowed Cobey to realize his dream.
"I am pretty sure there are other kids who want to be agents, pilots and other military specialties," Kim said. "Hopefully by hearing about Cobey, members of our military community will reach out to help kids become what they aspire to be."
The Soldiers set up a crime scenario where Cobey responded to a criminal act, lifted finger prints, processed the crime scene and eventually took part in a hostage negotiation situation. He successfully completed the exercise and was awarded the status of "Honorary Special Agent."
During his award presentation, he was presented with a CID badge, t-shirt, baseball cap and an embroidered patch that he said he will proudly hang on his wheel chair.
"I am just so glad that you let me do this," said Cobey. "I know it is very rare that you let people do this."
After the awards, Soldiers and attendees enjoyed lunch while Cobey and his mother, Jodi Pretz reflected on the trials of SMA and the beauty of Cobey's triumph.
Jodi wears a purple t-shirt that displays "Families of SMA." She is a mother who takes her job seriously. The pride in her eyes is evident as she describes the boy who is her son; and the simple fact there is nothing she wouldn't do for her child.
"Cobey draws people in. He's such a special kid," says Jodi. "People just want to do things for him."
Cobey just laughs and seems to have an innate gift which allows him to acknowledge the tough times as well as find joy in special moments like these.
"There are some things about SMA that have advantages," says Cobey. "Not too many people get to go through a secret agent course!"