3-year-old deputy salutes community he inspired

(Provided Photo/ Gene Ford at Indiana University Health)

HUNTINGTON, Ind. (WANE) – His courage battling a rare form of cancer inspired the Huntington County sheriff to make him the youngest deputy in the country. Now, Wyatt Schmaltz has received a hero’s welcome home in Huntington.

For the past week, Sheriff Terry Stoffel’s phone has been ringing off the hook. Calls are coming from people around the world, changed by what he did.

“I know Chicago PD is sending a badge down here,” Stoffel said. “I’ll take it over to Wyatt’s house and drop it off.”

July 9, Stoffel presented three-year-old Wyatt Schmaltz with a badge and uniform at the Riley Hospital for Children in Indianapolis. Stoffel swore in Wyatt from the boy’s hospital bed, making him an official special deputy.

Little Wyatt is battling stage 4 neuroblastoma, a rare form of cancer. His first order from Stoffel: Get better.

“My whole thought process was geared toward Wyatt and helping Wyatt. I didn’t see the big picture that other people would take this as something that they could learn from,” Stoffel explained. “It’s just inspired people to do other things themselves and get involved with other peoples’ lives to try and make a difference.”

The story made national news. It was featured on ABC News, CNN, Fox News, from New York to Hawaii, and around the world.

“The family is still humbled to the point where there’s not a lot of words. They are just overwhelmed,” Stoffel said. “This is truly the medicine that Wyatt needed. He needed this shot. This is our shot.”

On Friday, Wyatt made it out of the hospital and into the open arms of the Huntington community. He was the guest of honor at the Camp Hero graduation, a day camp for kids who learned about local police and courage.

Chief Deputy Chris Newton of the Huntington County Sheriff’s Department presented Wyatt with a plaque at the graduation.

“Your continuous smile along with your fighting spirit, always looking forward to tomorrow and never looking back to yesterday, is a true example of what a true hero is,” Newton said during the ceremony.

Hundreds of people in the community gave Wyatt a standing ovation inside the Huntington North High School auditorium Friday. Afterwards, the little boy stood up in his full deputy uniform and saluted the community he has changed.

Wyatt’s parents said he’s scheduled to have surgery at the end of the month for a tumor in his abdomen.

The family is having a blood drive fundraiser to help with medical costs. It’s July 26 at Life Church in Huntington from 11 to 5.

For ways to help the Schmaltz family, visit their Facebook page: Prayers for Wyatt Schmaltz.

Or click here to go to the family’s CaringBridge site. It has updates on Wyatt’s condition and ways to donate.

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