Eleven-year-old Austin Mendrala has been having a hard time finding other kids to play with this summer. When his mom would invite others to hang out in the park, no one was showing up. At one point, he cried for an hour over his loneliness, but the future was looking brighter.
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When friends stood him up for a play date, police and firefighters saved the day for this autistic boy.
His mother, Delilah, took to social media and put out an open invite for kids to meet Austin for his birthday at the local school playground in Merrimack, New Hampshire. When they got there, no one was yet waiting, but a city detective had seen the post and rallied his friends at the local police department.
“At some point a car came and it just sat there for a few minutes and then they drove off. Instantly Austin starts to cry because he thought no one was going to show up,” said Mendrala.
Just as Austin and his mom were about to give up, a pair of police cruisers showed up and the officers made the boy the center of attention. “He was jumping up and down, he was so excited,” said Mendrala. They spent an hour with Austin, letting him sit in their patrol cars and try on their hats.
Detective Chris Spillane says when he’d suggested the department help Austin have a good day at the playground, police officers “didn’t even hesitate” and some wanted to call their friends at the fire department.
Before the Officers left, fire trucks and EMT’s showed up to keep the fun going for the young boy.
While the police and firefighters hung out with Austin, more families started showing up — many with autistic kids who’d been facing the same lonely summer as Austin.
“Austin told me that it was the best day he ever had,” said Mendrala. “Merrimack police and firefighters are heroes. He will be talking about this for the rest of the summer.”