The Daily Eastern News

Local boy fighting cancer named honorary UPD  officer

The+Charleston+Fire+Department+let+Tristan+Farris+use+the+fire+hose%2C+Thursday+night+outside+of+the+Doudna+Fine+Arts+Center.+His+sister+Leila+%28background%29+took+a+turn+after+him.
The Charleston Fire Department let Tristan Farris use the fire hose, Thursday night outside of the Doudna Fine Arts Center. His sister Leila (background) took a turn after him.

The Charleston Fire Department let Tristan Farris use the fire hose, Thursday night outside of the Doudna Fine Arts Center. His sister Leila (background) took a turn after him.

Jordan Boyer

Jordan Boyer

The Charleston Fire Department let Tristan Farris use the fire hose, Thursday night outside of the Doudna Fine Arts Center. His sister Leila (background) took a turn after him.

Analicia Haynes

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Following a line of police cars with their red and blue lights flashing, 7-year-old Tristan Farris sat in the backseat of his parent’s car Thursday night before parking in the University Police Department parking lot.

Jumping out of the car wearing Aviator sunglasses and his own police officer uniform with an Eastern Illinois University Police Department patch on his sleeve, Tristan was welcomed by several police officers and firefighters, including University Police Sergeant Jimmy Williams, who got him the uniform.

Tristan and his family did not know it at first, but he was being named an honorary police officer Thursday night by the UPD.

After Tristan was diagnosed with acute lymphoblastic leukemia in February, his parents Natasha and Edward Applegate said he lost hope.

Edward Applegate said Tristan did not want to play and would “mope” around the house all day.

That ended when Tristan met his “best friend” Sergeant Williams.

Tristan Farris (center), with police officers from multiple departments and the Charleston Fire Department. Sgt. Jimmy Williams (left) organized the whole event as a suprise for Tristan.

Jordan Boyer
Tristan Farris (center), with police officers from multiple departments and the Charleston Fire Department. Sgt. Jimmy Williams (left) organized the whole event as a suprise for Tristan.

Edward Applegate said he knew Williams and Williams’ brother when he was younger, but they lost touch.

However, when Edward Applegate said he had to write a paper on someone who inspired him, he said he knew who to write about.

“Whenever I needed someone, he was there for me,” Edward Applegate said, referring to Williams.

Edward Applegate asked to meet with Williams to talk to him about his paper and when they met up, Edward Applegate told Williams about his son’s health issues.

Williams asked to see Tristan right then and there.

“When I first met him, he was excited to see me,” Williams said. “He told me he loved police officers.”

Williams said he felt a connection with Tristan and wanted to help him feel better because of his own medical problems.

Williams had a heart transplant in February 2017, after living with heart failure.

He said when he found out Tristan had leukemia, he knew he wanted to do something.

Edward Applegate said Williams gave Tristan the hope and the will to fight.

“I owe it all to him,” Edward Applegate said. “We got our son back.”

Williams said he visited Tristan and his family frequently, and when UPD Chief Kent Martin found out about Tristan, the department decided to make him an honorary officer and plan a party for him.

Williams said he wanted the event to be a surprise to the entire family and only told them that he had something he wanted to give to Tristan as a way to get them to come to the station.

When Tristan and his family got out of their blue car on Thursday and saw several police officers waiting for them, Tristan, grabbing his sunglasses and dropping his badge, ran up to Coles County Sheriff James Rankin and hugged him while his parents cried.

After exploring the inside of a police car, turning on the siren and using the fire hose to water some trees, Williams took Tristan, his sister Lelia and his parents inside of the station.

The Charleston Fire Department let Tristan Farris play in the fire engine, Tuesday night outside of the Doudna Fine Arts Center. Before this Tristan got to play in a police car and play with the sirens.

Jordan Boyer
The Charleston Fire Department let Tristan Farris play in the fire engine, Tuesday night outside of the Doudna Fine Arts Center. Before this Tristan got to play in a police car and play with the sirens.

Tristan was given a cake, a backpack filled with candy and toys and a bike painted blue and silver, which his younger sister Lelia said is his favorite color.

Natasha Applegate said Tristan loved cops all his life, and his dream to become one was a family tradition since his grandfather was one.

“My son is so full of life now, and he says ‘Jimmy says God is going to take care of me,’” Edward Applegate said.

Martin delivered the final surprise for the night, asking Tristan if he wanted to be an Eastern police officer.

“Yes,” Tristan said, smiling and jumping up from his seat and making his way toward Martin.

Martin named him an honorary police officer in front of a university police department logo on a brick wall.

After Martin said “you are now a policeman, buddy,” and shook Tristan’s hand, Tristan giggled and gave Martin a hug.

After the hug, Tristan paused for a moment, held his badge that was pinned on his shirt and looked up for awhile, before making his way back into the room with everyone else.

“We did a good thing,” Williams said. “We can’t make him better, but we can make him smile, and that’s good enough for me.”

Tristan’s parents said Tristan is getting better and he is still going through treatment. Though they said he has his bad days, Tristan is happy and his levels are improving.

 

Analicia Haynes can be reached at 581-2812 or [email protected]

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Local boy fighting cancer named honorary UPD  officer