"It's more than just a motto when we say 'to protect and to serve,' " Detective Michael Ventura tells PEOPLE.
The Los Angeles Police Department has come to the rescue of a little boy whose leg braces were stolen during a car burglary.
The LAPD has initiated a fundraiser to help 9-year-old Geovanni Ramirez, who has cerebral palsy, get a new pair of orthopedic leg braces after his were taken when his family’s SUV was broken into on June 9, reports CBS Los Angeles. The thief also stole the car’s battery and tools worth over $250.
After learning that the Ramirez family would have to wait to go through Medicare for the young boy to receive a new pair of leg braces, a few officers began a campaign to raise money for the cause.
“The officers were really struck about this boy who is devastated by this disease. [His family] essentially has to pick him up from the bed to the couch – that’s his life – and he had the biggest smile on his face. They shared that and I said, ‘We absolutely have to do something,’ ” Michael Ventura, detective and supervisor of the LAPD Newton Division, tells PEOPLE.
Ramirez has to use a wheelchair to get around until his braces are ready on July 1 – which is also when he’ll get the surprise of a lifetime.
“We will be presenting him with the braces and presenting the family with all the money that we’ve raised, but the Dodgers have also reached out to us,” Ventura says. “Apparently, Geovanni has never been to a baseball game, so the Dodgers are going to provide him with tickets to a game and some of my police officers will be accompanying the family.”
“We’re going to pick them up in a police van, and we’re going to take him to his first baseball game,” he says.
The police department decided to lend a helping hand not only because the theft left Ramirez unable to walk, but it also put a tremendous financial burden on his family.
The leg braces cost $1,250, and thanks to a GoFundMe page set up by LAPD’s Newton Division, over $9,770 has been raised so far. The officers have set a goal of $25,000.
“This tore at the hearts of this division,” LAPD Chief Charlie Beck said during a news conference on Wednesday.
He continued, “This is not a high-income family [and] that is a major, major financial catastrophe in this family’s life, so we want to turn this into something better, and I know that the people of Los Angeles will help us do that.”
The response has been overwhelming.
“As of this morning, we have had three offers to help provide medical care,” Ventura said. The family decided to go with the Orthopedic Institute for Children in Los Angeles. The hospital will be providing Ramirez with lifetime medical care, a spokesperson for OIC tells PEOPLE.
Not only will Ramirez’s medical expenses be covered, but Ventura says an anonymous Hollywood producer graciously offered to contribute the difference to reach their $25,000 goal.
“It’s more than just a motto when we say ‘to protect and to serve,’ ” Ventura says.