Building Up Community
A Booking Officer led an effort to give a sick kid a chance to play in his own backyard.
This summer, Special Constable Sean McConnell met two-year-old Nolan Davis at Ronald McDonald House. The little boy was diagnosed with juvenile myelomonocytic leukemia in November 2022.
Earlier this year, Nolan underwent chemotherapy treatment and two bone marrow transplants.
After learning that Davis’ immune system is very weak, the 11 Division officer conceived and funded the idea to build a playground for him with the help of his C platoon members and other officers at the Division.
“Because the young boy’s immune system is very weak, he needed a playground built in his backyard because he cannot play with other kids in neighbourhood facilities,” McConnell said.
McConnell is a member of the Million Dollar Smiles charitable organization that builds home playgrounds across the Greater Toronto Area and Southern Ontario.
Raising money for the builds through corporate sponsorships, Million Dollar did 60 builds for selected families this year.
Davis and his family reside in Brechin that is a two-hour drive north of Toronto.
On August 22, police officers and civilian members of 11 Division travelled two hours north of the city on their days off to build the playground for the young boy while his parents kept him away from the house.
“We got there early in the morning and it was a hot, day, but everyone was committed to completing the job and ensuring they could bring a big smile to Nolan’s face,” McConnell said.
Inspector Joyce Schertzer supported the initiative and was part of the build.
“Sean recognized a need to do something and brought both of his worlds together – his charity and his platoon,” Schertzer said. “Not only was this a total team effort, but it was a very enjoyable experience. They all sectioned off organically so that this could be done seamlessly in a very organized manner. Everyone now has a taste of how good it feels to give.”
The boy was completely surprised when he walked into his backyard.
“The look on his face was amazing,” she said, of the ultimate reward for everyone involved.
Superintendent Andy Ecklund was also part of the team effort.
“This is something I look at as giving back to the community,” the 11 Division Unit Commander said. “This is what policing is all about.”
Sergeant Salvatore Granata also pitched in.
“When you are able to make that difference however big or small it might be for someone, it is an amazing moment,” said Granata, who bought the yellow shirts that the volunteers wore to symbolize the team effort.
Daniel Davis thanked the officers for taking time out of their busy schedules and using their own resources for the build.
“This means a lot to our family and I thank you all for coming here and doing this,” he said. “We really appreciate it.”